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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
SPACE WEATHER
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 412.7 km/sec
density: 0.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A1
1650 UT Dec12
24-hr: A8
1045 UT Dec12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Dec 08
New-cycle sunspot 1009 is rotating over the sun's western limb. The spot is crackling with B-class solar flares; the explosions could hurl material over the limb as the sunspot disappears. Readers, if you have a solar telescope, keep an eye on the western limb. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 12
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 11 Dec. 2008
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals a possible sunspot group on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
quiet
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/POES
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.2 nT
Bz: 0.9 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on Dec. 12th. However, because of the high northern latitude of the hole, the stream could miss Earth, sailing over the north pole of our planet. Credit: Hinode X-ray Telescope
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Dec 12 2201 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
01 %
01 %
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: 2008 Dec 12 2201 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
05 %
MINOR
05 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
30 %
15 %
MINOR
10 %
01 %
SEVERE
05 %
01 %
What's up in Space
December 12, 2008
NORTHERN LIGHTS: Did you sleep through the auroras of November? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.  

GEMINID METEOR SHOWER: The annual Geminid meteor shower peaks on Dec. 13th and Dec. 14th when Earth passes through a stream of debris from extinct comet 3200 Phaethon. Bright moonlight will reduce the number of visible meteors from the usual 100/hr to only 20/hr or so. That's still a nice show. For best results, watch the sky starting 10 pm local time on Saturday night (Dec 13th) until dawn on Sunday morning (Dec. 14th). [live updates]

BIGGEST FULL MOON OF THE YEAR: Tonight's full Moon is the biggest of the year, as much as 14% wider and 30% brighter than lesser Moons earlier in 2008. An astronomer would say this is a "perigee Moon" because it occurs at perigee, the side of the Moon's elliptical orbit closest to Earth. Go outside tonight and soak up some moonlight. There's plenty of it: full story.

Vincent Jacques sends this picture from Breil-sur-Roya in the south of France:

"The full Moon rising behind the Alps was like a giant illuminated balloon!" says Jacques. "I took the picture using my Canon 350D."

more images: from Michel Benvenuto and Antoine Gerhardt of Nice, France; from William Chin of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; from Bader Eddine Hamdi of Debila, Eloued, Algeria; from Bill Burnett of Hamilton, Montana; from Mustafa Erol of Antalya, Turkey; from Jimmy Westlake of Stagecoach, Colorado; from Ugur Ikizler of Mudanya, Bursa, Turkey; from Geir Øye of Ørsta, Norway; from Joel Bavais of Anvaing, Belgium;

SHUTTLE SIGHTINGS: It's not every day that an airplane flies by with a spaceship sitting on its roof. That's just what happened, however, yesterday in Texas:


Photo details: Canon EOS 350D, ISO 400, 1/2500s exposure.

Pictured above is space shuttle Endeavour getting a piggy-back ride atop a specially modified 747 jumbo jet. "The pair gaining altitude in our north Texas skies was a stunning sight," says photographer Tom King of Watauga, Texas. The unusual mode of transportation was necessitated by bad weather on Nov. 30th. That's when storms over Florida forced the shuttle to land at Edwards Air Force Base in California. To get back to the Kennedy Space Center, Endeavour hitched a ride on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. "Only nine shuttle missions remain," notes King. "This could be the last time Texans and many others across the country see a shuttle in person."

UPDATE: Endeavour has landed at the Kennedy Space Center: more.

more images: from Sue Clark of Webster, Texas; from Jim and Karen Young at Edwards AFB, California;


Great Conjunction Photo 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 12, 2008 there were 1010 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Dec. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Mag.
Size
2008 WY94
Dec. 5
3.2 LD
19
35 m
2008 WG14
Dec. 5
4.8 LD
17
49 m
2008 XK
Dec. 6
1.7 LD
17
15 m
2008 XC1
Dec. 12
4.3 LD
16
102 m
2008 XB2
Dec. 13
5.8 LD
18
47 m
2006 VB14
Dec. 14
36 LD
15
795 m
2008 EV5
Dec. 23
8.4 LD
13
435 m
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 Links
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
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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.
STEREO
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
Science Central
  a one-stop hub for all things scientific
  more links...
   
©2008, SpaceWeather.com -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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