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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 346.7 km/sec
density: 4.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1
2220 UT Dec22
24-hr: C1
2220 UT Dec22
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 22 Dec 12
Sunspot 1635 is crackling with low-level C-flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 55
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 22 Dec 2012

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 821 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Update 22 Dec 2012

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 115 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 22 Dec 2012

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 1
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.3 nT
Bz: 1.6 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 22 Dec 12
There are no large coronal holes on the Earthside of the sun. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2012 Dec 21 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
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: 2012 Dec 21 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
10 %
20 %
05 %
10 %
Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012
What's up in space

Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.

Metallic pictures of the Sun

CHRISTMAS NIGHT: The Moon and Jupiter are converging for a heavenly sky show on Dec. 25, 2012. Got a telescope? Something is happening on Jupiter that makes it an extra-interesting target for backyard optics: video.

SOLSTICE SUNSET: On Dec. 21st, the northern winter solstice, Lauri Kangas of Ontario, Canada, watched the sun disappear into the longest night of the year. "I'm glad the world didn't end yesterday as it was a beautiful view!" he says.

"The lighting was interesting as the snow appeared bluish in colour and the sky was a warm yellow-gray," he adds. "The clouds filtered the sun enough to clearly show its circular disk without it being too bright."

Contrary to mistaken reports of a Maya doom-prophecy, the sun came back up again today, Dec. 22nd, the first day of the 14th Bak'tun on the Maya Long Count Calendar and the first day of northern winter 2012.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

SOLAR SPACE TELESCOPE SEES EARTH: NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft can now see our home planet in its HI1 telescope. HI stands for "Heliospheric Imager." The telescope is designed to track gusts of solar wind and solar storms all the way from the sun to Earth. This image, captured on Dec. 17th, shows Earth and the edge of the sun's corona in a single snapshot:

Earth is moving into the Heliospheric Imager's field of view because the twin STEREO probes are moving around the farside of the sun, which gives them a better view of the sun-Earth system: diagram. Soon Earth will be visible in STEREO-A's HI1 telescope and eventually in the coronagraphs as well.

The STEREO probes have two wider-field heliospheric imagers, too: HI2-A and HI2-B. Earth has been visible in the HI2 telescopes since launch in 2007, but this is the first time our planet has been visible in either of the HI1 telescopes, which can see regions of space closer to the sun. This development will give researchers a better view of solar storms engulfing Earth and could lead to improvements in space weather forecasting.

FARSIDE SOLAR ACTIVITY: The Earthside of the sun remains quiet, but the farside is growing restless. During the late hours of Dec. 20th and continuing through Dec. 21st, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has recorded a series of CMEs flying over the solar limb:

The source of the clouds appears to be multiple blast sites on the farside of the sun. This means Earth is not in the line of fire. The increasing pace of farside activity, however, suggests that the Earthside might not be far behind. Stay tuned for changes. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
[previous years: 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011]

  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 22, 2012 there were 1361 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2012 YR1
Dec 19
5.8 LD
22 m
2003 SD220
Dec 23
59.8 LD
1.8 km
1998 WT24
Dec 23
69.2 LD
1.1 km
2012 XM55
Dec 23
3 LD
12 m
2012 YS1
Dec 24
8.1 LD
44 m
2012 XP55
Dec 27
9.1 LD
68 m
1999 HA2
Feb 5
58 LD
1.3 km
3752 Camillo
Feb 12
57.5 LD
3.4 km
1999 YK5
Feb 15
49.1 LD
2.1 km
2012 DA14
Feb 15
0.09 LD
57 m
2009 AV
Feb 25
59.7 LD
1.0 km
2007 EO88
Mar 18
4.4 LD
23 m
1993 UC
Mar 20
49 LD
3.8 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
Space Weather Alerts
  more links...
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