You are viewing the page for Dec. 12, 2007
  Select another date:
<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 580.6 km/sec
density: 0.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B4
2230 UT Dec12
24-hr: B4
2230 UT Dec12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 12 Dec 07
Sunspot 978 is large but it does not pose a threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 44
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 11 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= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Updated: 2007 Dec 12 2128 UT
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.2 nT
Bz: 3.2 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
Coronal Holes:
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: Hinode X-ray Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2007 Dec 12 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
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 12 2203 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
10 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
10 %
10 %
01 %
01 %

What's up in Space
December 12, 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.

METEORS! The annual Geminid meteor shower is underway. "While going to work this morning, I saw three Geminids within 10 minutes--all of them roughly equal in brightness to the stars of the Big Dipper," reports Jarkko Laukkanen of Finland. The best is yet to come. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on Friday, Dec. 14th, when sky watchers could see dozens to hundreds of shooting stars. [full story] [sky map] [submit your photos]

EXPLOSIVE DISCOVERIES: NASA's fleet of THEMIS satellites has made some surprising new discoveries about outbursts of Northern Lights called "substorms" and the source of their power. Findings include giant magnetic ropes that connect Earth to the Sun and explosions in the outskirts of Earth's magnetic field: full story.

GHOSTLY AURORAS: A solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetosphere and producing some lovely auroras. Regard the sky hours ago over Kiruna, Sweden:

"This photo was taken by an all-sky camera at the Swedish Institute of Space Physics," says Spaceweather reader Yann. "It could easily get lost in the camera's huge archive updated automatically every minute. But this one is too special to go unpublished--a real ghostly aurora!"

Sky watchers from Scandinavia to Alaska should remain alert for more spooky lights as the solar wind continues to blow: gallery.

SUNSPOT 978: Sprawling sunspot group 978 now consists of more than 40 dark magnetic knots--each as wide as a small planet or moon. The largest of the ensemble is shown in this high-resolution snapshot taken yesterday by Japan's Hinode spacecraft:


The spot's dark core is wide enough to swallow Earth while the turbulent granules bubbling around the spot compare in scale to a large state such as Texas or California. Such detail. No wonder researchers call Hinode a "Hubble for the Sun."

Despite its great size, the sunspot 978 poses little threat for solar flares. The region's magnetic field is uncomplicated and stable--not prone to explosions. As a photo-op, however, it is quite spectacular.

video: Yesterday Gary Palmer of Los Angeles photographed seething magnetic activity around sunspot 978: video. "Isn't Mother Nature wonderful!" he says.

more images: from Malcolm Park of London, UK; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Paul Haese of Blackwoo, South Australia; from Alcaria Rego of Almada - Portugal; from John Nassr of Baguio, the Philippines; from James Kevin Ty of Manila, the Philippines; from Javier Temprano of Santander, Spain; from Eric Soucy of Ohain, Belgium; from Ehsan Rostamizadeh of Kerman, Iran;

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

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 12, 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.
©2019 All rights reserved.