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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 340.8 km/sec
density: 9.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2344 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A4
1824 UT Dec24
24-hr: A7
0012 UT Dec24
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 24 Dec 10
The Earth-side of the sun has been spotless for six consecutive days. Readers with solar telescopes, pay attention to the circled region where a new sunspot might be emerging. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 23 Dec 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 5 days
2010 total: 49 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 817 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 23 Dec 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 80 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 23 Dec 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 2
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.6 nT
Bz: 2.3 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
Coronal Holes: 24 Dec 10
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on or about Jan. 2, 2011--the first solar wind stream of the New Year. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Dec 24 2200 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: 2010 Dec 24 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
20 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
Friday, Dec. 24, 2010
What's up in space

These pictures are almost too hot to touch. Metallic photos of the sun make great Christmas gifts.

Metallic pictures of the Sun

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS: On Christmas Eve, a bright light will glide through the night sky over North America--and we don't mean Santa's sleigh. It's the International Space Station putting on a spectacular holiday show. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker or your cell phone for flyby times.

LUNAR ECLIPSE REVEALS AURORA BOREALIS: Normally, the full Moon is bad news for Northern Lights; lunar glare overwhelms the delicate aurora borealis. The full Moon of Dec. 21st, however, was different. It slipped into the shadow of Earth for a lunar eclipse, reducing the glare and revealing hidden auroras:

Photo details: Canon EOS 5D MarkII and 500D. Sigma 8/3.5, EF 15/2.8, and EF 24/1.4L II lenses.

"Auroras were dancing in the northern sky throughout the eclipse," says photographer Yuichi Takasaka of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories of Canada. In the snapshot, above, the Moon is circled, apparently not much brighter than surrounding stars. A video prepared by Takasaka shows how dramatically the sky darkened while the Moon was inside Earth's shadow. "What a night!"

Lunar Eclipse Photo Gallery
[NASA: "Solstice Lunar Eclipse"] [astronomy alerts]

BEFORE THE LUNAR ECLIPSE: Sometimes it pays get an early start; Dec. 21st was one of those times. Hours before Earth's shadow fell across the Moon, producing a solstice lunar eclipse witnessed by millions of people, astrophotographer Theirry Legault stood alone in Normandy, France, and watched a another shadow flit across the lunar surface first. It was the International Space Station:

"I photographed the space station's silhouette using a Canon 5D Mark II at the prime focus of my Meade ACF 10-inch telescope," says Legault. Traveling around Earth at 17,000 mph, the ISS transited the lunar disk in a fraction of a second. "I captured the split-second event using a 1/2000s exposure."

Legault, a veteran photographer of lunar and solar transits, uses Calsky to predict ground tracks and timing. Click here for a transit of your own.

November 2010 Aurora Gallery
[previous Novembers: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000]

  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 24, 2010 there were 1167 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Miss Distance
2010 TQ19
Oct 8
9.6 LD
37 m
2010 TS19
Oct 10
3.7 LD
31 m
2010 TD54
Oct 12
0.1 LD
7 m
2010 TB54
Oct 13
6.1 LD
19 m
1999 VO6
Oct 14
34.3 LD
1.8 km
2010 TK
Oct 16
4.5 LD
37 m
1998 TU3
Oct 17
69.1 LD
5.2 km
2010 TG19
Oct 22
1.1 LD
70 m
1998 MQ
Oct 23
77.7 LD
1.9 km
2007 RU17
Oct 29
39.2 LD
1.1 km
2003 UV11
Oct 30
5 LD
595 m
3838 Epona
Nov 7
76.8 LD
3.4 km
2005 QY151
Nov 16
77.7 LD
1.3 km
2008 KT
Nov 23
5.6 LD
10 m
2002 EZ16
Nov 30
73.9 LD
1.0 km
2000 JH5
Dec 7
47 LD
1.5 km
2010 JL33
Dec 9
16.6 LD
1.3 km
2008 EA32
Jan 7
76.5 LD
2.1 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
Science Central
  more links...
©2010 All rights reserved. This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips.
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