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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 377.6 km/sec
density: 0.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Dec26
24-hr: A0
2245 UT Dec26
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 26 Dec 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 25 Dec. 2008
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals a southern 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: 2.7 nT
Bz: 0.4 nT south
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 26 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 26 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
December 26, 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.


NEW YEAR'S EVE: Mark your calendar. On Wednesday, Dec. 31st, Venus and the crescent Moon will gather for a bright and beautiful conjunction in the sunset sky. It's a nice way to end the year: sky map.

SOLAR ACTIVITY: For the third day in a row, a massive prominence is dancing along the sun's northeastern limb. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has been monitoring the action since Christmas Eve:

This is a polar crown prominence--a cloud of hot plasma held aloft by solar magnetic fields. Nuclear engineers are keenly interested in these "dance moves." How the sun's magnetic field contains plasma and moves it around is not fully understood, but engineers know they'd like to do the same thing in fusion reactors on Earth. Further studies of the sun may eventually yield the secrets of plasma control.

Meanwhile, consider it an entertaining mystery. Readers, if you have a solar telescope, today is a good day to enjoy the show.

more images: from Kristian Molnar of Kralovicove Kracany, Slovakia; from Jose of Miami, Florida; from James Screech of Bedford, England; from S. Billings et al of South Portland, Maine; from Francisco A. Rodriguez of Gran Canaria. Canary Islands; from Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany; from Matthias Juergens of Gnevsdorf, Germany; from Adrian Guzman of San Jose, California; from Steve Wainwright of Swansea, S. Wales, UK; from Keith Davies of Swansea, S Wales, UK;

NACREOUS CLOUDS: Bright and super-iridescent nacreous clouds are supposed to rare. "Yet we've seen them here twice in one week," reports Sauli Koski of Kittila, Finland. Note the mother-of-pearl band in this snapshot he took earlier today using a Nikon D3x:

Dark clouds in the photo are tropospheric clouds scudding low over Earth's surface. Nacreous clouds, on the other hand, inhabit the stratosphere some 9 to 16 miles high. They form when the air temperature drops below -85 C. Microscopic ice crystals coalesce in the staggeringly frigid cold, and when sunlight hits those crystals, voilĂ --a nacreous cloud. The one Koski saw was so bright, it penetrated the tropospheric haze below.

The increasing pace of nacreous cloud apparitions over Finland and other parts of Scandinavia means the air temperature in the polar stratosphere has become very low. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for more nacreous clouds in the nights ahead. The best time to look is during the twilight hours after sunset or before sunrise.

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 26, 2008 there were 1012 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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