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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 380.8 km/sec
density: 0.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B1
1750 UT Dec19
24-hr: C1
0015 UT Dec19
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2340 UT
Daily Sun: 19 Dec. 09
Sunspot 1035 is a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 20
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 18 Dec 2009

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2009 total: 259 days (74%)
Since 2004: 770 days
Typical Solar Min: 485 days
explanation | more info
Updated 18 Dec 2009

Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 0
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.1 nT
Bz: 0.1 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth on or about Dec. 22nd. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2009 Dec 19 2201 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: 2009 Dec 19 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
45 %
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
50 %
15 %
20 %
10 %
10 %
01 %
What's up in Space
December 19, 2009

ASTRONOMY ALERTS: Looking for a unique and affordable gift? Give the heavens for Christmas at Spaceweather PHONE.


A FLASH OF LIGHT FROM TITAN: NASA's Cassini spacecraft has photographed a flash of sunlight reflecting from a lake on Titan, confirming the presence of liquid methane on Saturn's largest moon. Science@NASA has the full story.

SUNSPOT SUNSET: Last night, Tamas Ladanyi watched the sun set behind a Franciscan Church in Veszprem, Hungary. To his surprise, he noticed sunspot 1035 staring back at him:

"It was a spectacular sunset with sunspot 1035 [visible as two dark patches on the dimmed solar disk]," says Ladanyi. "I took the picture using a Canon 450D without a filter."

Saturday night could begin with another "sunspot sunset." Sunday night, however, will not. Sunspot 1035 is approaching the sun's western horizon and will likely vanish when the weekend is done. Stay tuned for parting shots.

Note: Only über-experienced astrophotographers like Ladanyi should consider taking pictures of the sun with unfiltered optics. Even when the sun is hanging low, focused sunlight can damage both eyes and cameras.

more images: from Peter Paice of Belfast, Northern Ireland; from Rogerio Marcon of Campinas - Brasil; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from C. Swiger and J. Stetson of South Portland, Maine; from Brian Emfinger of Ozark, Arkansas; from John C McConnell of Maghaberry, Northern Ireland; from Sylvain Weiller of Saint Rémy lès Chevreuse, France;

SOLSTICE SUN TRACKS: "The solstice is just around the corner," says Becky Ramotowski of Tijeras, New Mexico. "I made this 'solargraph' by leaving a pinhole camera outside, exposing the daily path of the Sun from Summer Solstice to Winter Solstice."

The solstice arrives on Dec. 21st at 1747 UT (12:47 EST).

"I know Winter Solstice is not 'officially' here yet, but here in Tijeras the Sun reached it's lowest altitude today (Dec. 18th), so the solar tracks will not get any lower than shown," notes Ramotowski. "The gaps in the streaks were cloudy days when the Sun was blocked. As you can see, there are a LOT of sunny days in New Mexico. There was condensation inside the camera, so the photo shows that moisture."

2009 Geminid Meteor Gallery
[sky map] [meteor radar] [Geminid counts]

December Northern Lights Gallery
[previous Decembers: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2001, 2000]

Explore the Sunspot Cycle

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 19, 2009 there were 1089 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Dec. 2009 Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2009 WV25
Dec. 1
2.9 LD
65 m
2009 WA52
Dec. 5
8.2 LD
23 m
2002 WP
Dec. 6
71.2 LD
950 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
  more links...
©2008, -- This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.













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