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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 353.4 km/sec
density: 5.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
1947 UT Dec15
24-hr: C1
1947 UT Dec15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 15 Dec 12
A new and possibly significant sunspot group is emerging at the circled location. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 71
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 13 Dec 2012

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 821 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Update 13 Dec 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 112 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 13 Dec 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.1 nT
Bz: 6.0 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 15 Dec 12
Solar wind flowing from this southern coronal hole should reach Earth on Dec. 17-18. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Dec 15 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
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: 2012 Dec 15 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
15 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
10 %
20 %
05 %
20 %
Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012
What's up in space

Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.

Metallic pictures of the Sun

NASA END-OF-THE-WORLD VIDEO: NASA is so confident that the world won't end on Dec. 21st 2012, that the space agency has already released a news update for the day after, Dec. 22nd. Read the press release or watch the video to find out "Why the World Didn't End Yesterday."

QUIET SUN, BUT NOT FOR LONG? For the second week in a row, solar activity remains very low, but a new group of sunspots could be poised to break the quiet. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory observed the phalanx of dark cores emerging over the sun's southeastern limb on Dec. 15th:

It is too soon to say whether these spots have potential for strong flares. We'll know more in a few days when they turn toward Earth, offering a clearer view of their magnetic architecture. Meanwhile, NOAA forecasters have boosted the odds of an M-class eruption to 10% on Dec. 16th. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

GEMINID METEOR UPDATE: Earth has exited the debris stream of rock comet 3200 Phaethon, which brings an end to the annual Geminid meteor shower. On peak night, Dec. 14th, worldwide observers counted more than 100 meteors per hour, many of them fireballs (meteors brighter than Venus). NASA's all-sky network of meteor cameras detected more than 250 fireballs over the southern USA alone. Here is one of them, photographed by Dennis Sherrod of Springville, AL:

"This meteor shower was probably one of the best I have seen since the late 1990s," says Sherrod. "Meteor rates were over 100 per hour throughout the 3-1/2 hours I was outdoors. At times there were as many as four simultaneous Geminids falling within view of the camera."

Using data from multiple observing stations, the NASA all-sky system automatically trianguated orbits for the fireballs it recorded, shown here in a diagram of the inner solar system:

The red splat marks the location of Earth. Orbits are color-coded according to velocity. The yellow ellipses trace the path of Geminid meteoroids; other colors correspond to random meteoroids not associated with the Geminid debris stream.

"It was a great night for meteors!" says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Offfice.

Realtime Geminid Photo Gallery

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]

  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 15, 2012 there were 1360 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2012 XJ112
Dec 10
2.4 LD
18 m
2012 XE54
Dec 11
0.6 LD
36 m
2012 XL55
Dec 11
4.2 LD
17 m
2009 BS5
Dec 11
8.4 LD
15 m
4179 Toutatis
Dec 12
18 LD
2.7 km
2012 XN134
Dec 13
4.6 LD
12 m
2012 XB112
Dec 14
0.8 LD
5 m
2012 XP134
Dec 15
1.2 LD
13 m
2012 XL134
Dec 15
0.7 LD
12 m
2012 XH112
Dec 15
1.7 LD
17 m
2012 XM16
Dec 16
3.1 LD
31 m
2003 SD220
Dec 23
59.8 LD
1.8 km
1998 WT24
Dec 23
69.2 LD
1.1 km
2012 XM55
Dec 23
3 LD
12 m
2012 XP55
Dec 27
9.1 LD
67 m
1999 HA2
Feb 5
58 LD
1.3 km
3752 Camillo
Feb 12
57.5 LD
3.4 km
1999 YK5
Feb 15
49.1 LD
2.1 km
2012 DA14
Feb 15
0.09 LD
57 m
2009 AV
Feb 25
59.7 LD
1.0 km
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 web links
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
  The official U.S. government space weather bureau
Atmospheric Optics
  The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.
Solar Dynamics Observatory
  Researchers call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
  Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
  the underlying science of space weather
Space Weather Alerts
  more links...
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