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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Science news and information about the Sun-Earth environment.


Solar Wind
speed: 845.0 km/s
2.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max:
X1 2215 UT Dec14
24-hr: X1 2215 UT Dec14
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 14 Dec '06

Sunspot 930 has a "beta-gamma-delta" magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class solar flares. Credit:

Sunspot Number: 21
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 13 Dec 2006

Far Side of the Sun

This holographic image reveals no large sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 16.3 nT
15.1 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT

Coronal Holes:

A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on or about Dec. 19th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope


Solar Flares: Probabilities for a medium-sized (M-class) or a major (X-class) solar flare during the next 24/48 hours are tabulated below.
Updated at 2006 Dec 13 2245 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 60 % 60 %
CLASS X 35 % 35 %

Geomagnetic Storms: Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at 2006 Dec 13 2245 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 10 % 10 %
MINOR 25 % 25 %
SEVERE 55 % 45 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 15 % 15 %
MINOR 20 % 20 %
SEVERE 65 % 55 %

What's Up in Space -- 14 Dec 2006
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Would you like a call when auroras appear over your hometown? Sign up for Spaceweather PHONE.

GOOD GEMINIDS: The 2006 Geminid meteor shower peaked this morning, and the first reports are in: It was a good show. There were "lots of meteors and fireballs, " says Alex Conu near Bucharest, Romania. One Geminid over Ozark, Arkansas, "produced shadows more intense than during a full moon!" reports Brian Emfinge: gallery.

AURORA ALERT: Sky watchers, be alert for auroras. A coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth today at approximately 1400 UT, and the impact may cause strong geomagnetic storms. Stay tuned for updates.

The CME was hurled toward Earth on Dec. 13th by an X3-class explosion from sunspot 930:

An X3-flare on Dec. 13th. Image credit: SOHO

NOAA forecasters estimate a 35% chance of more X-flares today. Sunspot 930 has an unstable "delta-class" magnetic field that could erupt at any moment.

PASTEL SUN: "I've been watching sunspot 930 since it first appeared last week," says artist Mark Seibold of Troutdale, Oregon. Inspired by the view through his Coronado SolarMax40, he made these pastel sketches:

Magnetic fields and hot plasma emerging from the sunspot's dark core reminded Seibold of "anatomical forms being born from a black pool. It conjures up William Herschel's assertion that 'the sun is richly stored with inhabitants.'"

Clearly, the sun's not just a star--it's a muse. Solar activity is surging, so grab your pastels.

BONUS: STS-116 Night Launch Photo Gallery

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 14 Dec 2006 there were 836 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

Dec 2006 Earth-asteroid encounters




2006 WQ127

Dec. 2

7.9 LD


~94 m
2006 WB

Dec. 5

7.0 LD


~130 m
2004 XL14

Dec. 20

10.1 LD


~225 m
Notes: LD is a "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 Web Links

NOAA Space Environment 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. (European Mirror Site)

Daily Sunspot Summaries -- from the NOAA Space Environment Center.

Current Solar Images -- from the National Solar Data Analysis Center

X-ray images of the Sun: GOES-12 and GOES-13

Recent Solar Events -- a summary of current solar conditions from

What is the Magnetosphere?

The Lion Roars -- visit this site to find out what the magnetosphere sounds like.

List of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

Observable Comets -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from NASA's ACE spacecraft.

How powerful are solar wind gusts? Not very! Read this story from Science@NASA.

More Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Proton Monitor.

Lists of Coronal Mass Ejections -- from 1996 to 2006

Mirages: Mirages in Finland; An Introduction to Mirages;

NOAA Solar Flare and Sunspot Data: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999; 2000; 2001; 2002; 2003; 2004; 2005; Jan-Mar 2006; Apr-Jun 2006; Jul-Sep 2006; Oct-Dec 2006.

This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips: email

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