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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 382.5 km/sec
density: 3.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
1821 UT Dec08
24-hr: B2
1139 UT Dec08
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 08 Dec 10
Sunspot 1131 is very photogenic and "looks like a sunflower," says Rogerio Marcon of Campinas, Brazil. Credit: SDO/HMI 2-day movie: 9 MB mpg
Sunspot number: 34
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 07 Dec 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 45 days (13%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 813 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 07 Dec 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 87 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 07 Dec 2010

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: 3.4 nT
Bz: 1.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 08 Dec 10
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about Dec. 10th. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Dec 08 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
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: 2010 Dec 08 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
20 %
01 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
20 %
01 %
10 %
01 %
03 %
Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010
What's up in space

ON SALE NOW: The David H. Levy Comet Hunter -- offering the clearest views of Comet Hartley 2.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, THE EPIC BLAST: On Dec. 6th, a magnetic filament stretching more than 700,000 km around the sun's southeastern limb erupted, producing a blast of epic proportions. Earth was not in the line of fire. Click to view a must-see movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.

NORTHERN LIGHTS: Last night (Dec. 7th) a minor gust of solar wind gently buffeted Earth's magnetic field. At the Aurora Sky Station in Sweden, above the Arctic Circle, a gentle gust is all it takes to ignite auroras you can reach out and touch ... almost:

"Every night our staff checks to see what the future may hold," says Sky Station photographer Chad Blakley. "Needless to say, we were all excited when we saw the density of the solar wind rise above 15 protons/cm3. Soon the auroras began, and they did not stop until we all went home six hours later." (For the record, the auroras pictured above were more than 100 km above Blakeley's head.)

A more forceful gust of solar wind is en route to Earth, due to arrive on Dec. 10th. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras.

more images: from Marketa Stanczykova of Iceland, Reykjavik; from Borkur Hrolfsson of Þingvellir, Iceland; from Frank Olsen outside Tromsø, Norway; from Fredrik Broms of Kvaløya, Norway; from Börkur Hrólfsson of Reykjavik, Iceland; from Øystein Lunde Ingvaldsen of Bø in Vesterålen, Norway; from Kjetil Skogli outside Tromsø, Norway;

SUNSPOT SUNRISE: Sunspot 1131 is so big, it can be seen without the aid of a solar telescope. On Dec. 6th, Terry Reis "spotted" it while photographing the sunrise from White Plains Beach, Oahu, Hawaii:

Photo details: Canon 5D, Canon 600mm w/.025 extender, ISO 400, F8, 1/8000s

"Other than the sunspot, it was a completely routine Hawaiian sunrise," says Reis. "Beautiful!"

Sunspot 1131 is big, but quiet. The behemoth spot has a simple, stable magnetic field that poses little threat for a major eruption. At the moment it is producing more pretty pictures than solar flares. Browse the links, below, for examples.

more images: from Rogerio Marcon of Campinas SP Brasil; from John C McConnell of Maghaberry, Northern Ireland; from Theo Ramakers of Social Circle GA; from Monika Landy-Gyebnar of Veszprem, Hungary

WARNING: Even when the sun is dimmed by fog or low-hanging clouds, it can still damage your eyes. Do not stare directly at the sun or look at the sun through unfiltered optics. If you attempt to photograph a dim sun, do not look through the optical viewfinder. Instead, compose the scene using the camera's digital viewscreen.

November 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Novembers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 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 8, 2010 there were 1167 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 TQ19
Oct 8
9.6 LD
37 m
2010 TS19
Oct 10
3.7 LD
31 m
2010 TD54
Oct 12
0.1 LD
7 m
2010 TB54
Oct 13
6.1 LD
19 m
1999 VO6
Oct 14
34.3 LD
1.8 km
2010 TK
Oct 16
4.5 LD
37 m
1998 TU3
Oct 17
69.1 LD
5.2 km
2010 TG19
Oct 22
1.1 LD
70 m
1998 MQ
Oct 23
77.7 LD
1.9 km
2007 RU17
Oct 29
39.2 LD
1.1 km
2003 UV11
Oct 30
5 LD
595 m
3838 Epona
Nov 7
76.8 LD
3.4 km
2005 QY151
Nov 16
77.7 LD
1.3 km
2008 KT
Nov 23
5.6 LD
10 m
2002 EZ16
Nov 30
73.9 LD
1.0 km
2000 JH5
Dec 7
47 LD
1.5 km
2010 JL33
Dec 9
16.6 LD
1.3 km
2008 EA32
Jan 7
76.5 LD
2.1 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
Science Central
  more links...
©2010 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.

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