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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: 657.1 km/s
0.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max:
B2 1805 UT Dec15
24-hr: C2 0000 UT Dec15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 15 Dec '06

Sunspot 930 has a "beta-gamma-delta" magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class solar flares. Credit:

Sunspot Number: 23
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 14 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: 2.6 nT
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 or about Dec. 19th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope


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 15 2204 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 65 % 65 %
CLASS X 35 % 35 %

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 15 2204 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 10 % 10 %
MINOR 35 % 35 %
SEVERE 50 % 50 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 05 % 05 %
MINOR 30 % 30 %
SEVERE 60 % 60 %

What's Up in Space -- 15 Dec 2006
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SUBSIDING STORM: A geomagetic storm that sparked Northern Lights as far south as Arizona last night is subsiding. The cause of the storm: a coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth on Dec. 14th. Our planet's magnetic field reverberated for more than 24 hours after the impact.

Another CME is on the way, but it won't cause such a widespread display. The incoming cloud was launched yesterday by an X1-explosion above sunspot 930. The blast was not squarely Earth-directed, so the CME's impact will be a glancing one. Nevertheless, sky watchers should remain alert for auroras when the CME arrives on Dec. 16th.

Above: Auroras over Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Dec. 14th. "We're so lucky!" says photographer Richard Bell. "First, we get to observe the Geminid meteor shower on Wednesday then we get more Geminids and a nice aurora display on Thursday."

December 2006 Aurora Gallery
Updated: December 15th!

SOLAR RADIO BURSTS: The latest X-flare from sunspot 930 (an X1.5 explosion at 22:15 UT on Dec. 14th) sent shock waves billowing through the sun's atmosphere. Those waves produced a cacophany of shortwave radio emissions. Thomas Ashcraft recorded some of them using his radio telescope in New Mexico: listen.

Above: A spectrogram of solar radio bursts on Dec. 14th. Courtesy: NASA's Radio Jove Program and the University of Florida Radio Observatory (UFRO).

"We were lucky to catch a slice of these powerful solar radio sweeps at 22 MHz while the Sun was still in our antenna beams," says Ashcraft.

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 15 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 -- from the National Solar Data Analysis Center

X-ray images of the Sun: GOES-12 and GOES-13

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

What is the Magnetosphere?

The Lion Roars -- visit this site to find out what the magnetosphere sounds like.

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

Observable Comets -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from NASA's ACE spacecraft.

How powerful are solar wind gusts? Not very! 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 1996 to 2006

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; Apr-Jun 2006; Jul-Sep 2006; Oct-Dec 2006.

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

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