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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 342.0 km/sec
density: 1.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Dec27
24-hr: A0
1240 UT Dec27
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 27 Dec 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 26 Dec. 2008
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals a possible northern hemisphere sunspot 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: 2.4 nT
Bz: 0.6 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
Coronal Holes:
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should arrive on or about Dec. 30th. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Dec 27 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 27 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
December 27, 2008

UNIQUE CHRISTMAS GIFT: For less than the cost of a night at the movies, you can give someone the heavens for Christmas. Now available: gift subscriptions to Spaceweather PHONE.


CALIFORNIA FIREBALL: A remarkable fireball streaked over southern Califonia on Dec. 27th around 1:50 am Pacific time. "It was as if someone had set off a rescue flare that instantly bathed the countryside in whitish blue-green light," reports Grant Bentley of Bishop, CA. "At one point, the path of the meteor went behind a cirrus-stratus cloud that it backlit in snowy green light. After a brilliant show of less than three seconds, it was gone without a trace. This was easily the most massive object I have ever seen burning up as it entered the Earth's atmosphere." Readers, if you witnessed or photographed this event, please submit a report.

LAST AURORAS OF 2008: They're coming, the last auroras of 2008. The source of the display is a coronal hole photographed earlier today by Japan's Hinode spacecraft:

Coronal holes are places in the sun's atmosphere where the sun's magnetic field opens up and allows the solar wind to escape. A stream of solar wind flowing from this coronal hole should reach Earth on Dec. 30th or 31st. The impact could light up the Arctic Circle, punctuating the year with aurora borealis.

Although 2008 has been a year of remarkably low solar activity, polar sky watchers nevertheless have enjoyed many good geomagnetic storms. Galleries: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August September, October, November, December. Stay tuned for one more.

GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST: "The night after Christmas was dark and foggy," says Tom Wagner of Waterloo, Iowa. "I ventured out to the cemetery behind my house to see if I could capture the essence of the mysterious mist. What I ended up with is a stereo image." Put on your 3D glasses and behold:

"To create the anaglyph, I combined two pictures taken with my Pentax K20 digital camera," he explains. "One picture was taken about one foot to the right of the other."

The eerie pink color comes from high-pressure sodium lamps, widely used for outdoor lighting such as parking and street lights. "It's easy to see that high pressure sodium lights dominate our urban light pollution," notes Wagner. Low-pressure sodium lamps are preferred by astronomers because their pure yellow light can be filtered out. Pink is trickier to deal with, but it does seem to suit the cemetery...

Learn more about light pollution and how to fight it from the International Dark-sky Association.

Dec. 2008 Nacreous Cloud Gallery
[January 2008 Gallery] [Nacreous tutorial]

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 27, 2008 there were 1011 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
2008 YQ2
Dec. 24
8.6 LD
49 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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