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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 295.5 km/sec
density: 3.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Dec02
24-hr: A0
2245 UT Dec02
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 02 Dec 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 01 Dec. 2008
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 0
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.3 nT
Bz: -0.0 nT
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Dec. 3rd or 4th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Dec 02 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2008 Dec 02 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
15 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
15 %
01 %
10 %
01 %
05 %
What's up in Space
December 2, 2008
NORTHERN LIGHTS: Did you sleep through the auroras of November? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.  

MOONBOW CHALLENGE: Experts once thought that moonbows--that is, rainbows formed in moonlight--were only visible around the time of a bright full Moon. "Amateur astronomer Martin McKenna has just broken that rule by photographing a moonbow only 7 days before the new moon," announces atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. "The challenge now is to image one even closer to a new moon." Readers, can you do it? "Who knows," says Cowley, "I might even offer a prize of an umbrella!" Submit your images here.

GREAT CONJUNCTION: Last night, the three brightest objects in the night sky converged, producing a triple-conjunction of stunning beauty. Venus, Jupiter and the crescent Moon were crowded into a patch of sky just a few degrees across when Steve Lantz took this picture from the Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs:

Photo Details: Canon PowerShot G2, ISO 50, 15 seconds at f/2.5

"The rock formation in the foreground is called Kissing Camels rock," says Lantz. "We had some clouds, but that was no problem. Venus and the Moon beamed right through them."

In the 10-year history of, no single event has generated more photos than this one. Submissions have poured in from six continents, dozens of countries, kingdoms, democracies, theocracies, ships, planes, cars, and even from a military aircraft refueling 35,000 feet over Iraq. We're building a gallery to display a selection of the best shots. Stay tuned!

LUNAR OCCULTATION OF VENUS: En route to last night's Great Conjunction, the Moon ran right over Venus. The event, which astronomers call a "lunar occultation," happened directly over Europe where Romanian photographer Stanescu Octavian took this picture:

Photo details: Canon 300D + a homemade 250mm Newtonian telescope

"I caught Venus just before it disappeared behind the dark edge of the Moon," he says. Venus remained hidden for more than an hour, then popped out again to form a spectacular triangle with Jupiter and Luna as opposing vertices. "What a very nice vision!"

Lunar occultations of Venus happen about twice a year. The next two: Feb 28, 2009, over Antarctica and Apr. 22, 2009, over North America. The North American occultation is going to be good, occuring in a lovely pre-dawn Spring sky while Mars hovers nearby. Mark your calendar.

more images: from Frank Ryan Jr at The Burren, Co. Clare, Ireland; from Deirdre Kelleghan of Greystones, Co Wicklow Ireland; from Eduard Masana of Barcelona, Spain; from Luis Carreira of Leiria, Portugal; from Erwan Henry of Saint-Rieul, Brittany, France; from Monika Landy-Gyebnar of Balatonakarattya, Hungary; from Brian Fitzsimons of Cavan, Ireland; from G√ľnther Strauch of Borken, NRW, Germany; from James Canvin of Cullompton, Devon, UK; from Wojciech Piskorz of Gliwice, Poland; from Claudio Bottari of Sava, Italy; from Eddie Guscott of Corringham, Essex, England; from John Durston of Plymouth, UK; from Martin Campbell of Dungannon, N.Ireland; from Elias Chasiotis at the Valley of the Temples, Agrigento, Sicily, Italy; from Guenter Kleinschuster of Feldbach, Styria, Austria; from John Fitzsimons of Sligo, Ireland; from Luigi Fiorentino of Bari, Italy;

Nov. 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Novembers: 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2001, 2000]

Near-Earth Asteroids
Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.
On December 2, 2008 there were 1002 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Dec. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 WY94
Dec. 5
3.2 LD
35 m
2008 WG14
Dec. 5
4.8 LD
49 m
2006 VB14
Dec. 14
36 LD
795 m
2008 EV5
Dec. 23
8.4 LD
435 m
Notes: LD means "Lunar Distance." 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256 AU. MAG is the visual magnitude of the asteroid on the date of closest approach.
Essential Links
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
  The official U.S. government space weather bureau
Atmospheric Optics
  The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
  Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
Science Central
  a one-stop hub for all things scientific
  more links...
©2008, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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