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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 451.9 km/sec
density: 1.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
2202 UT Dec13
24-hr: C1
0801 UT Dec13
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 13 Dec 11
A group of small sunspots is emerging at the circled location. Overall, solar activity is very low. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 70
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 12 Dec 2011

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 821 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 12 Dec 2011


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 132 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 12 Dec 2011

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/POES
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.8 nT
Bz: 2.8 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 13 Dec 11
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2011 Dec 13 2200 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
05 %
05 %
CLASS X
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: 2011 Dec 13 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
05 %
10 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
10 %
15 %
SEVERE
05 %
10 %
 
Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2011
What's up in space
 

Don't just watch shooting stars. Wear them! Authentic meteorite jewelry for Christmas is now available in the SpaceWeather Store.

 
Meteorite jewelry

GEMINID METEOR SHOWER: The Geminid meteor shower peaks on Dec. 13th and 14th. Bright moonlight will interfere with the display, but not obliterate it. Forecasters expect observers with clear skies to see as many as 40 meteors per hour. The best time to look, no matter where you live, is between 10 pm local time on Tuesday, Dec. 13, and sunrise on Wednesday, Dec. 14th. [full story] [meteor radar] [meteor app] [sky map] [Geminid images: #1]

SIGNIFICANT COMET PLUNGES TOWARD THE SUN: A comet nearly as wide as two football fields (200m) is plunging toward the sun where it will most likely be destroyed in a spectacular light show on Dec. 15/16. Although Comet Lovejoy (C/2011 W3) could become as bright as Jupiter or Venus when it "flames out," the glare of the sun will hide the event from human eyes. Solar observatories in space, however, will have a grand view. Yesterday the brightening comet entered the field of view of NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft:

"You can clearly see the comet heading diagonally through the images," says Karl Battams of the Naval Research Lab who prepared the animation. "During the 16-hour sequence, the comet brightens from magnitude +8 to +6.5, approximately."

It will soon grow much brighter. "This comet is a true sungrazer, and will skim approximately 140,000 km (1.2 solar radii) above the solar surface on Dec. 15/16," notes Battams. At such close range, solar heating will almost certainly destroy the icy interloper,creating a cloud of vapor and comet dust that will reflect lots of sunlight. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) will have a particularly good view.

Discovered on Dec. 2nd by amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy of Australia, the comet is an unusually large member of the Kreutz family. Kreutz sungrazers are fragments of a single giant comet (probably the Great Comet of 1106) that broke apart back in the 12th century. SOHO sees one plunging into the sun every few days, but most are small, no more than 10 meters wide. Comet Lovejoy is at least ten times larger than usual.

more images: from Jan Ebr of Malargue, Argentina; from Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero & Nick Howes using a remote controlled telescope in Australia

AURORA WATCH: A solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field, causing mild geomagnetic disturbances and auroras around the Arctic Circle. "Last night, Dec. 12th, we went out to see the meteor shower, but the Moon was too bright," says Helge Mortensen of Kvaløya, Norway. "Instead of Geminids, we got the Northern Lights." Not a bad consolation prize:

The chances of auroras mixing with meteors will increase on Dec. 13/14 as the Geminid meteor shower intensifies and the solar wind continues to blow. Arctic photographers are encouraged to target the heavens on Tuesday night. Images may be submitted here. Aurora alerts: text, phone.

more images: from Frank Olsen of Tromsø, Norway


Dec. 10th Total Lunar Eclipse Gallery

  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 13, 2011 there were 1272 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Mag.
Size
2003 XV
Dec 7
1.1 LD
--
21 m
2003 WM7
Dec 9
47.6 LD
--
1.6 km
2000 YA
Dec 26
2.9 LD
--
80 m
2011 SL102
Dec 28
75.9 LD
--
1.0 km
2011 WS95
Dec 28
7.2 LD
--
49 m
1991 VK
Jan 25
25.3 LD
--
1.9 km
433 Eros
Jan 31
69.5 LD
--
8.5 km
2009 AV
Feb 16
44.9 LD
--
1.2 km
2000 ET70
Feb 19
17.7 LD
--
1.0 km
2011 CP4
Feb 23
9.1 LD
--
255 m
2008 EJ85
Mar 6
9.1 LD
--
44 m
1999 RD32
Mar 14
57.9 LD
--
2.3 km
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 web 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 Dynamics Observatory
  Researchers call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
STEREO
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
  Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
Heliophysics
  the underlying science of space weather
Science Central
Trade Show Displays
   
  more links...
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