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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 455.7 km/sec
density: 3.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
1845 UT Dec10
24-hr: B6
0700 UT Dec10
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 10 Dec 07
Sunspot 978 continues to grow but it does not yet pose a threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 42
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 09 Dec 2007
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image shows no large sunspots on the farside of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Updated: 2007 Dec 10 2102 UT
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 10.6 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 could hit Earth on Dec. 11th or 12th. Credit: Hinode X-ray Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2007 Dec 10 2204 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: 2007 Dec 10 2204 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
20 %
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
25 %
15 %
15 %
06 %
06 %

What's up in Space
December 10, 2007
Where's Saturn? Is that a UFO--or the ISS? What's the name of that star? Get the answers from mySKY--a fun new astronomy helper from Meade.

ASTEROID FLYBY: Asteroid 3200 Phaethon is flying past Earth today at a distance of 11 million miles. This asteroid is significant because it is the parent of the annual Geminid meteor shower due to peak later this week on Friday, Dec. 14th. Amateur astronomers with large backyard telescopes and CCD cameras may be able to photograph the space rock shining like a 14th magnitude star in the constellation Virgo: ephemeris.

CLOUDY COMET: Dec. 9th was a cloudy night in Darmstadt Germany, but that didn't prevent from Gunnar Glitscher from photographing Comet 17P/Holmes, shown here in a 30-second exposure with his off-the-shelf digital camera:


"To see this 1-degree comet monster in binoculars floating in front of the glittering star clouds of Perseus is simply overwhelming," he says. To the unaided eye, the comet resembles a puff of cloud, "a soft glow much like the star cluster M44 in Cancer."

So, comet chasers, ready your binoculars! Holmes awaits: skymap.

Comet 17P/Holmes Photo Gallery
[Interactive World Map of Comet Photos]
[sky map] [ephemeris] [3D orbit] [Night Sky Cameras]

SUNSET MIRAGE: "Every day recently I've been taking my Canon G9 to work where I have a nice view over Santa Monica Bay," reports photographer Jeff Hapeman of Santa Monica, California. "On December 4th I caught this amazing sunset mirage."

Photo details: Canon G9, ISO 80, 1/640s, f/4.8.

A temperature inversion layer split the setting sun into 3 ... 4 ... 5 pieces! Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley says the California Coast is a good place to see such things. "The combination of cold offshore ocean current and warm winds from the land give temperature inversions, layers of abnormally hot and cold air that bend the sun’s rays to form sunset mirages and green flashes."

In this particular case, "just one inversion has given us three squashed suns, one setting above the layer, one rising from the sea and another sinking towards it. Microstructure or multiple stacked inversions have split the topmost sun into three more little pieces."

The topmost sun often disappears with a final green flash. Says Hapeman, "I'm hoping to catch that next!"

more images: from Sam Cole of Austin, Texas.

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 10, 2007 there were 911 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Dec-Jan Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2007 XZ9
Dec. 1
8.1 LD
45 m
2007 VD184
Dec. 9
7.8 LD
95 m
3200 Phaethon
Dec. 10
47 LD
5 km
2007 TU24
Jan. 29
1.4 LD
405 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 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.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  From the NOAA Space Environment Center
Current Solar Images
  from the National Solar Data Analysis Center
  more links...
©2007, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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