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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids

SpaceWeather.com
Science news and information about the Sun-Earth environment.

SPACE WEATHER
Current
Conditions

Solar Wind
speed: 294.3 km/s
density:
4.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2027 UT


NOTE: The ongoing radiation storm has overwhelmed solar wind sensors onboard NASA's ACE spacecraft. Solar wind readings reported above are temporarily unreliable.

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max:
M2 1910 UT Dec07
24-hr: M2 1910 UT Dec07
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:
SOHO/MDI

Sunspot Number: 44
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 06 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: 6.5 nT
Bz:
0.1 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2027 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.

NOTE: The Solar X-ray Imager onboard NOAA's GOES-13 satellite is experiencing an anomaly possibly related to the X9-flare of Dec. 5th. NOAA and NASA staff are investigating. Meanwhile, coronal hole updates are suspended.


SPACE WEATHER
NOAA
Forecasts

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
Mid-latitudes
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 -- 7 Dec 2006
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RADIATION STORM: A radiation storm is underway. Based on the energy and number of solar protons streaming past Earth, NOAA ranks the storm as category S3: satellites may experience single-event upsets and astronauts should practice "radiation avoidance."

The rush of protons may be a sign of an approaching CME (coronal mass ejection). Protons are accelerated in shock waves at the leading-edge of CMEs, so when the proton count rises, we can guess that a CME is en route. Northern sky watchers should remain alert for auroras, which could flare up if and when a CME arrives.

ANGRY SUNSPOT: Radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft knew something was up yesterday when a loud roar came out of the loudspeaker of his 22 MHz shortwave receiver in New Mexico: Sunspot 930 had exploded again. The X6-class flare sent shock waves billowing through the sun's atmosphere, producing among other things a Type II solar radio burst: listen.

In Los Angeles, California, Gary Palmer watched the explosion through his Coronado SolarMax90:

NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% chance of another X-flare during the next 24 hours. Further explosions could intensify the ongoing radiation storm and improve the chances for widespread auroras. Stay tuned.

BONUS: Even between explosions, a lot is happening around sunspot 930, as shown in this movie from French astronomer Pascal Paquereau. To create the animation, he combined "17 pictures taken every 2 minutes through my Coronado PST."

PLANETARY ALIGNMENT: Set your alarm. Jupiter, Mercury and Mars are converging, and they can be seen in the eastern sky at dawn shining through the rosy glow of sunrise:


Photo details: Canon 300D, 135 mm lens, 1.3 sec, ISO 200.

Tunz Tezel took this picture from Bolu, Turkey, on Dec. 7th. It merely hints at what is to come in the mornings ahead. On Dec. 9th the three planets will form a tiny triangle about 1o wide. And on Dec. 10th, the best morning of all, Mercury and Jupiter will be less than 0.25o apart. The view through binoculars should be splendid. Don't miss it! Sky maps: Dec. 8, 9, 10, 11.



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 7 Dec 2006 there were 836 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

Dec 2006 Earth-asteroid encounters
ASTEROID

 DATE
(UT)

MISS DISTANCE

MAG.

 SIZE
2006 WQ127

Dec. 2

7.9 LD

19

~94 m
2006 WB

Dec. 5

7.0 LD

17

~130 m
2004 XL14

Dec. 20

10.1 LD

15

~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 lmsal.com.

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;

GLOSSARY | SPACE WEATHER TUTORIAL

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


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