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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: 422.0 km/sec
density: 4.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1915 UT Dec22
24-hr: A0
1915 UT Dec22
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 22 Dec 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 21 Dec. 2008
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
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: 5.8 nT
Bz: 4.1 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Dec. 22nd or 23rd. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Dec 22 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 22 2201 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
10 %
MINOR
05 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
25 %
10 %
MINOR
05 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
December 22, 2008

For less than the cost of a night at the movies, you can give someone the heavens for Christmas. Now available: gift subscriptions to Spaceweather PHONE.

 

URSID METEORS: Earth is passing through a stream of debris from comet 8P/Tuttle and this is causing the annual Ursid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the Ursids to peak on Dec. 22nd with 8 to 10 meteors per hour flying out of the constellation Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper). The display is usually mild, but outbursts of Ursids occasionally surprise observers with rates many times normal.

Watching these northern meteors can be a chilling experience, so why not stay inside and listen to them instead? Spaceweather.com is broadcasting live audio from the Air Force Space Surveillance Radar in Texas. When a meteor passes over the radar--"ping"--there is an echo. Give it a try; feedback is welcomed.

MIDNIGHT VISITATION: In a remote area of New Mexico, amateur astronomer Thomas Ashcraft operates an all-sky camera for nightly monitoring of meteors and fireballs. "The other night I caught a big one," he says. Click on the image to play the movie:

"An owl descended from the sky and landed on the clear dome of my fireball camera," explains Ashcraft. "It stayed for a few minutes and then flew away." This visitor was probably a Western Screech-Owl or a Great Horned Owl, two varieties common to New Mexico. Ornithologists may be able to pinpoint the species; the owl glances down during the video for a revealing self-portrait.

Bright meteors turn out to be far more common than visiting owls. Browse Ashcraft's fireball catalog for a typical night's catch.

SUNDOG ALERT: Winter weather storming across the northern USA and Canada is filling the air with ice and filling the sky with ice haloes. "These sundogs appeared during our ground blizzard yesterday," reports Steve Yezek of Grafton, Iowa:

"It was very cold outside with temperatures below zero, and there were strong, gusting winds," he says.

Similar conditions in Omaha, Nebraska, produced a double halo around the sun. In addition, onlooker Tyler Burg witnessed "sundogs, a segment of a supralateral arc, and an upper tangent arc that persisted for the better half of 4 hours. It was a nice display."

Readers, if it's cold where you live, bundle up, go outside, and look at the sky. The sundogs are barking!

more images: from Alain Turgeon in the La VĂ©rendrye wildlife reserve of northern Quebec; from Sally J Smith of Wadhams, New York; from Mark Poe of Aberdeen, South Dakota;


Dec. 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Decembers: 2007, 2006, 2005, 2001, 2000]

       
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 22, 2008 there were 1011 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
  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 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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