Don't just watch shooting stars. Wear them! Authentic meteorite jewelry for Christmas is now available in the SpaceWeather Store.
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TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE: Mark your calendar. On Saturday, Dec. 10th, the full Moon will glide through the coppery shadow of Earth, producing a total lunar eclipse visible from the Pacific side of our planet. For residents of the western USA and Canada, the event unfolds at dawn and will be magnified to super-sized proportions by the Moon illusion. [Science@NASA: full story, video]
THE MOON AND JUPITER: For the second night in a row, the Moon and Jupiter are in conjunction. Go outside just after sunset to see the pair rising in the east, shining brightly enough to pierce city lights and even thin clouds. Marek Nikodem,
sends this picture from Szubin, Poland:
"Bright moonlight shining through ice crystals in the air made a beautiful 22o halo," he says. "The ring of light was almost big enough to encircle Jupiter, too."
Nikodem took his picture on Dec. 4th when Jupiter and the Moon were only beginning to converge. Tonight the pairing is much tighter, with only 5o of separation between the two. Any Moon halo that forms this evening will capture Jupiter deep inside its circumference. This is a good night for observing in icy air!
more images: from Mike Hollingshead of Modale, Iowa; from Sven Melchert of Stuttgart, Germany; from Austin Taylor of Lerwick, Shetland Islands, UK; from Maxime Barreau of Cholet, France; from JimTegerdine of Marysville, Washington
SUBSIDING SUNSPOT: After three days of meteoric growth, sunspot AR1363 has reversed course and is beginning to decay. As its magnetic field relaxes, the active region poses a subsiding threat for strong flares. It's not dead yet, though, as this snapshot shows:
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded this extreme ultraviolet flash from a C6-class solar flare in the sunspot's magnetic canopy during the late hours of Dec. 5th. AR1363 is crackling with low-level flares like this one.
There is still a slim chance that AR1363 will buck the trend and unleash a major M- or X-class eruption. If such an flare happens today, it will be geoeffective because the sunspot is facing Earth. Quiet, however, is more likely. Solar flare alerts: text, phone.
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 6, 2011 there were 1272 potentially hazardous asteroids. 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.
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| ||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 |
| ||Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO. |
| ||from the NOAA Space Environment Center |
| ||the underlying science of space weather |