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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 418.1 km/sec
density: 2.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A1
1950 UT Dec11
24-hr: B5
0925 UT Dec11
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 11 Dec 08
Sunspot 1009 is a member of Solar Cycle 24. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 13
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 10 Dec. 2008
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals a possible sunspot group on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.3 nT
Bz: 1.8 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on Dec. 11th or 12th. However, because of the high northern latitude of the hole, the stream could miss Earth, sailing over the north pole of our planet. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Dec 11 2201 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: 2008 Dec 11 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
20 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
30 %
10 %
10 %
01 %
05 %
What's up in Space
December 11, 2008
NORTHERN LIGHTS: Did you sleep through the auroras of November? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.  

GEMINID METEOR SHOWER: The annual Geminid meteor shower peaks on Dec. 13th and Dec. 14th when Earth passes through a stream of debris from extinct comet 3200 Phaethon. Bright moonlight will reduce the number of visible meteors from the usual 100/hr to only 20 or 30/hr. That's still a nice show. For best results, watch the sky starting 10 pm local time on Saturday night (Dec 13th) until dawn on Sunday morning (Dec. 14th). [live updates]

SHUTTLE SIGHTINGS: This week, space shuttle Endeavour is flying 'cross country from California to Florida piggy-backed on a specially modified Boeing 747. Earlier today, photographer Tom King saw it when it crossed over his hometown in Texas:

"The pair gaining altitude in our North Texas skies was a stunning sight," says King. "Only nine missions remain, quite likely making this the last time Texans and many others across the country will see a shuttle in person."

When Endeavour's recent mission to the ISS ended on Nov. 30th, bad weather over Florida forced the shuttle to land at California's Edwards Air Force Base. That's why Endeavour is taking this ride now--to get back home. The journey includes several stops. Last night, for instance, Endeavour overnighted at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Ft. Worth, Texas. Tonight, the shuttle will rest at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. From there, Endeavour will hop to the Kennedy Space Center, landing in Florida no later than 2 pm EST on Friday. Dec. 12th. Readers, if you live in the area, keep your eyes peeled for this.

more images: from Jim and Karen Young at Edwards AFB, California

BIG LUNAR CORONA: This Friday's full Moon is going to be the biggest and brightest of 2008. That means lunar coronas are going to be big and bright, too. Tonight in Northern Ireland, Martin Mc Kenna photographed this example:

Photo details: Fujifilm S6500fd, ISO100, 4seconds.

"It was a sparkling clear night until some scattered clouds drifted over the Moon causing this wonderful display," says Mc Kenna. "The corona was large with intense multiple rings of colour."

Coronas are caused by tiny water droplets or sometimes small ice crystals in clouds. They diffract the moonlight to produce rings of pastel color that flitter and dance as ragged clouds drift by. "It was a lovely sight on a frosty night!"

UPDATED: Great Conjunction Photo Gallery

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 11, 2008 there were 1010 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Dec. 2008 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2008 WY94
Dec. 5
3.2 LD
35 m
2008 WG14
Dec. 5
4.8 LD
49 m
2008 XK
Dec. 6
1.7 LD
15 m
2008 XC1
Dec. 12
4.3 LD
102 m
2008 XB2
Dec. 13
5.8 LD
47 m
2006 VB14
Dec. 14
36 LD
795 m
2008 EV5
Dec. 23
8.4 LD
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.
  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, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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