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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: 402.7 km/s
4.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
C5 2005 UT Dec05
24-hr: X8 1035 UT Dec05
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 05 Dec '06

New sunspot 930 is very active and poses a threat for X-class solar flares. Credit:

Sunspot Number: 43
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 04 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: 9.3 nT
4.2 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT

Coronal Holes:

A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole will reach Earth on Dec. 6th or 7th. Credit: NOAA GOES-13.


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 05 2204 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 70 % 70 %
CLASS X 30 % 30 %

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 05 2204 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 30 % 40 %
MINOR 15 % 25 %
SEVERE 05 % 10 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 35 % 45 %
MINOR 20 % 30 %
SEVERE 10 % 15 %

What's Up in Space -- 5 Dec 2006
Subscribe to Space Weather News

Did you sleep through the auroras of November? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.

MAJOR FLARE: Earth-orbiting satellites detected a major X9-class solar flare this morning at 1035 UT (5:35 a.m. EST). The source: big, new sunspot 930*, which is emerging over the Sun's eastern limb. GOES-13 captured this X-ray image of the blast:

Because of the sunspot's location near the limb, the flare was not Earth-directed. Future eruptions could be, however, because the Sun's spin is turning the spot toward Earth. Sunspot 930 will be visible for the next two weeks as it glides across the solar disk.

*Correction: Initially, we reported that the X9-class flare came from sunspot 929. The correct number is sunspot 930.

EGYPTIAN TORNADO: Yesterday at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina in Alexandria, Egypt, astronomer Aymen Ibrahem dashed outside during a rainstorm "hoping to photograph a rainbow." Instead he found himself face-to-face with a rare Egyptian tornado:

"The last tornado in this part of Egypt happened in 1981," says Ibrahem.

Strong tornadoes are born in rotating thunderstorms called supercells. To make a supercell, you need a cold, dry mass of polar air crashing into a warm, moist mass of tropical air. These two kinds of air frequently meet in the mid-section of the United States--hence Tornado Alley. But they rarely meet in Egypt.

Indeed, there was no supercell over Alexandria yesterday. The twister Ibrahem saw was probably a lesser form of tornado called a "funnel cloud," which didn't even reach the ground. Nevertheless, "I was lucky to catch it," he says.

Click to view the
Worldwide Distribution of Tornadoes

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 5 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 --a gallery of up-to-date solar pictures from the National Solar Data Analysis Center at the Goddard Space Flight Center. See also the GOES-12 Solar X-ray Imager.

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

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

Observable Comets -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

What is the Interplanetary Magnetic Field? -- A lucid answer from the University of Michigan. See also the Anatomy of Earth's Magnetosphere.

Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from NASA's ACE spacecraft. How powerful are solar wind gusts? 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 1998 to 2001

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;

Space Audio Streams: (NASA/Marshall) INSPIRE: #1; (Stan Nelson of Roswell, New Mexico) meteor radar: #1, #2;


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

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