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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 367.9 km/sec
density: 1.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C7
1946 UT Dec14
24-hr: C7
1459 UT Dec14
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 14 Dec 11
Departing sunspot 1367 is crackling with C-flares. Everything else is quiet. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 77
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 13 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 13 Dec 2011


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 133 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 13 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: 2.8 nT
Bz: 0.3 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 14 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 14 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 14 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
10 %
05 %
MINOR
01 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
15 %
10 %
SEVERE
10 %
05 %
 
Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011
What's up in space
 

They came from outer space--and you can have one! Genuine meteorites are now on sale in the Space Weather Store.

 
Own your own meteorite

CURIOSITY AND THE SOLAR STORM: Last month, a massive solar storm launched itself toward Mars just as NASA's new rover, Curiosity, was blasting off from Cape Canaveral in the same direction. The coincidence heralds a new job for the multi-talented rover: For the next 9 months, Curiosity will monitor space weather en route to the Red Planet. [full story]

GEMINID METEOR UPDATE: Today, Earth is passing through a stream of debris from near-Earth asteroid 3200 Phaethon, source of the annual Geminid meteor shower. Often the encounter produces more than 100 Geminids per hour, but this year many of the meteors are obscured by bright moonlight. Visual rates are currently in the dozens, not hundreds.

"Last night, I spent two hours outdoors and witnessed a good shower despite the strong moonlight," reports Monika Landy-Gyebnar, who sends this picture (and others) from Veszprem, Hungary:

"I'm happy I had 2 hours of beauty among the brightening dust of the asteroid Phaethon!" she says.

Another way to enjoy the Geminids is by listening to them. The US Air Force Space Surveillance Radar is scanning the skies over the southern USA. When a Geminid flies overhead--ping!--there is an echo. This method of observing is unaffected by moonlight. Live audio from the radar is playing on Space Weather Radio.

See also: New iPhone App Helps NASA Keep Track of Meteoroids.

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. NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft recorded the comet's approach on Dec. 11:

"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


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 14, 2011 there were 1272 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Mag.
Size
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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