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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 396.3 km/sec
density: 1.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2244 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Dec24
24-hr: A0
0330 UT Dec24
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 24 Dec 07
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 23 Dec 2007
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals sunspot 978 still intact on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Updated: 2007 Dec 24 2139 UT
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.3 nT
Bz: 1.8 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
Coronal Holes:
There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun. Credit: Hinode X-ray Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2007 Dec 24 2203 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: 2007 Dec 24 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %

What's up in Space
December 24, 2007
Where's Saturn? Is that a UFO--or the ISS? What's the name of that star? Get the answers from mySKY--a fun new astronomy helper from Meade.

ASTEROID FLYBY: Mark your calendar: On Jan. 29, 2008, one night before a Tunguska-class (50m-wide) asteroid threatens to strike Mars, an even larger asteroid will fly past our own planet. At closest approach, 2007 TU24 will be 1.4 lunar distances from Earth. There's no danger of a collision, but the 400m-wide space rock will be close enough to phtograph through backyard telescopes as it speeds through the constellation Cassiopeia glowing like a 10th magnitude star. [ephemeris] [orbit]

CHRISTMAS PROMS: "The promenences on the sun's limb today have a real Christmas feel to them!" reports Greg Piepol of Rockville, Maryland. Here is the view through his Coronado SolarMax 90:

Solar prominences are clouds of hydrogen twisted and held aloft by solar magnetic fields. They're common enough, but how often do they twist into the shape of reindeer? It must be Christmas... "Have a great holiday!" says Piepol.

more images: from Franck Charlier of Marines, Val d'Oise, France.

MOON AND MARS: Last night, sky watchers around the world witnessed a meeting of the full Moon and Mars. "The wind was blowing hard, it was freezing cold, and clouds moved in and out of view, but the beautiful Moon-Mars duo made it all worthwhile," says Rachel Bowerman who took this picture from Gomer, Ohio:

Click to view a world map of Moon-Mars photos

In central Europe the Moon passed directly in front of Mars. "It was a real eclipse," says Hanno Falk of Flensburg, Germany. "The weather was not cooperative, but I shot a lot of pictures and combined them to make a video." Just outside the path of totality, Martin Wagner of Sonnenbuehl-Genkingen, Germany, caught Mars apparently floating above a field of lunar craters: image.

The Moon and Mars are separating now, but they'll still be close enough together to produce a pleasing Christmas Eve sky show. Don't miss it!

more images: from Kay Meyer of Glendale, CA; from Edgar in Union Square, San Francisco, CA; from Peter Heinzen of Raron, Swiss Alps, Switzerland; from David Harvey of Tucson, Arizona; from Ugur Ikizler of Mudanya - Bursa / Turkey; from JP Slavinsky of Reno, Nevada.

Comet 8P/Tuttle Photo Gallery
[World Map of Comet Sightings]
[sky map] [comet cameras] [ephemeris] [orbit]

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 24, 2007 there were 912 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Dec-Jan Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2007 XZ9
Dec. 1
8.1 LD
45 m
2007 VD184
Dec. 9
7.8 LD
95 m
3200 Phaethon
Dec. 10
47 LD
5 km
2007 YN1
Dec. 15
1.0 LD
45 m
2007 XH16
Dec. 24
8.1 LD
565 m
2007 TU24
Jan. 29
1.4 LD
400 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 bureau for real-time monitoring of solar and geophysical events, research in solar-terrestrial physics, and forecasting solar and geophysical disturbances.
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.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  From the NOAA Space Environment Center
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
  more links...
©2007, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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