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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 265.2 km/sec
density: 1.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2350 UT Nov30
24-hr: A0
0125 UT Nov30
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2350 UT
Daily Sun: 01 Dec. 09
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 30 Nov 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 8 days
2009 total: 251 days (75%)
Since 2004: 762 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 30 Nov 2009

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
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.5 nT
Bz: 0.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 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: 2009 Dec 01 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: 2009 Dec 01 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
December 1, 2009

SPACESHIP SIGHTINGS: Would you like a call when the space station is about to fly over your backyard? Sign up for Spaceweather PHONE.


LONG NIGHT'S MOON: There's a full Moon tonight and according to folklore it has a special name--the Long Night's Moon. Most Decembers have just one full Moon, but this December will have two. The Long Night's Moon of Dec. 1st-2nd will be followed by a full "Blue Moon" on Dec. 31st. Stay tuned for more information about the Blue Moon as the end of the year approaches.

RARE MOON HALOS: On Nov. 29th, when the waxing Long Night's Moon ascended over Kittilä, Finland, Timo Veijalainen walked outside and witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime moonrise. "I saw this weird halo," he says. "It didn't start out so bright, but later it intensified and formed a number of different rings. I've never seen anything it!"

Fortunately, he was not too spellbound to take a picture:

The display was caused by ice crystals floating in the air between Finland and the Moon. Moonlight glinted, reflected, and refracted through the crystals in a complicated pattern that produced a display of surpassing beauty.

Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley was so impressed, he waxed poetic in describing the scene: "Halos like this around Helios, the ancient Greek sun god, would be notable. Around much fainter Selene, the moon goddess, they are outstanding. We need new names for some of them. On each side of Selene there is a bright and colorful moondog or 'paraselene.' The white halo joining them and passing through the moon is a 'paraselenic circle.'"

"But the two choicest gems illuminated by Selene keep their old names. The very topmost halo is a rare one. It remains a Parry arc in honor of its discoverer the Arctic explorer William Parry, who first saw it around the sun. That's not all. The smudges near the moondogs are very rare lower and middle Lowitz arcs. These were not even photographed around Helios until the 1990s!"

more Moon halos: from Mustafa Erol of Antalya, Turkey; from Max Bittle of Suncook, New Hampshire; from Ethan Tweedie of Brownwood Texas

BIG SPACESHIP: It's wider than a football field, has more than 13,000 sq. ft. of living space, and weighs more than 760,000 Earth-pounds. On top of everything else, it looks great through a telescope. Behold the ISS:

Pete Lardizabal took these pictures on Nov. 28th when the space station flew over his backyard in St Johns, Florida. "I used a 130mm (5 inch) refracting telescope and a Canon 30D digital camera," he says.

No telescope is required, however, to enjoy the ISS. Human eyes do fine. The enormous spaceship reflects enough sunlight to outshine Jupiter or Venus, and it is easy to see in the night sky even from brightly-lit cities. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flybys of your home town.

more images: from Ian Mercier of East Angus, Québec, Canada; from Christopher Calubaquib of El Sobrante, California; from Mustafa Erol of Antalya/Turkey; from Keith Geary of Shercock, Co.Cavan, Ireland; from Mark Arzadon of San Jacinto, Pangasinan, Philippines;

November Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Novembers: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001]

2009 Leonid Meteor Gallery
[previous Leonids: 1998, 2001, 2002, 2006]

Explore the Sunspot Cycle

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 1, 2009 there were 1084 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Nov. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 UK14
Nov. 1
9.1 LD
29 m
2006 JY26
Nov. 2
6.7 LD
10 m
2000 XK44
Nov. 4
28.8 LD
1.1 km
2009 VA
Nov. 6
0.05 LD
6 m
2000 UJ1
Nov. 7
43.3 LD
1.2 km
2009 VT1
Nov. 9
1.4 LD
6 m
2000 TO64
Nov. 10
44.2 LD
1.9 km
2009 UK20
Nov. 12
6.5 LD
20 m
2009 VX
Nov. 12
2.6 LD
26 m
2009 VR
Nov. 13
6.6 LD
10 m
2009 WQ6
Nov. 16
0.9 LD
7 m
2009 WX7
Nov. 16
3.7 LD
20 m
2009 VC1
Nov. 18
6.0 LD
21 m
2009 WJ6
Nov. 20
0.5 LD
14 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
  more links...
©2008, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.













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