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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: 600.1 km/s
4.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
X6 1845 UT Dec06
24-hr: X6 1845 UT Dec06
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: 59
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 05 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: 9.7 nT
0.4 nT north
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 06 2204 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 85 % 85 %
CLASS X 50 % 50 %

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 06 2204 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 35 % 30 %
MINOR 20 % 15 %
SEVERE 05 % 05 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 35 % 30 %
MINOR 20 % 15 %
SEVERE 05 % 05 %

What's Up in Space -- 6 Dec 2006
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AURORA ALERT: Sky watchers, be alert for auroras. A solar wind stream hit Earth today, sparking a geomagnetic storm (in progress) at high latitudes. John Gray took this picture from the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, just a few hours ago:

Photo details: Canon 350D, 18mm, f3.5, 400 ASA, 15 secs

"The huge green arch was very impressive," he says. "Even the nearly-full Moon did not stop the auroras from shining through."

Note: The solar wind stream that caused these auroras is unrelated to the solar explosions described below. Consider it a bonus.

ANGRY SUNSPOT: Solar activity is very high. New sunspot 930 has unleashed two X-class solar flares: an X9-flare on Dec. 5th and an X6- flare on Dec. 6th.

Sunspot 930 on Dec. 6th. Credit: John Nassr of the Philippines.

Because of the sunspot's location near the eastern limb, the blasts were not squarely Earth-directed. Nevertheless, they might make themselves felt. Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) hurled into space by the explosions could deliver glancing blows to Earth's magnetic field as early as Dec. 7th, producing high-latitude geomagnetic storms.

more images: from Gary Palmer of Los Angeles, CA; from Robert Arnold on the Isle of Skye, Scotland; from Chuck Baker of Carlsbad, California; from John Nassr of the Philippines; from John M Candy of Whitley Bay, North Tyneside, UK; from John Stetson of Falmouth, Maine; from Adrian Guzman of San Jose, CA.

PLANETARY ALIGNMENT: Finally, a good reason to wake up early: Jupiter, Mercury and Mars are converging to form a tight triangle in the morning sky. Look for them, low in the east, beaming through the rosy glow of dawn on Dec. 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th. All three planets will fit together in the field of view of ordinary binoculars--a very pretty sight.

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 6 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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