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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 326.6 km/sec
density: 18.2 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1915 UT Dec30
24-hr: A0
1050 UT Dec30
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1915 UT
Daily Sun: 30 Dec 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI

more images: from Larry Alvarez of Flower Mound, Texas; from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Greg Piepol of Rockville, Md
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 29 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= 0
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 7.0 nT
Bz: 0.3 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 Dec. 30th or 31st. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Dec 30 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 30 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
15 %
01 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
20 %
25 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
December 30, 2008

AURORA ALERT: Did you sleep through the northern lights? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.


NEW ENGLAND FIREBALL: Last night, Dec. 29th at 9:30 p.m. EST, sky watchers in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey witnessed a magnitude -9 fireball that exploded colorfully in mid-flight. No one knows if fragments of the meteoroid reached the ground. Readers, if you saw or photographed this event, please submit a report. Updated: Eye-witness accounts

AURORA ALERT: "The Northern Lights are coming," says Rob Stammes of the Polar Light Center in Lofoten, Norway. He bases his prediction on what is happening right now in the ground outside his magnetic observatory. "Electrical currents are surging through the Earth. Here is the recording from my ground current instrument.".

The cause of this activity is a solar wind stream hitting Earth. The impact of the solar wind rattles Earth's magnetic field which, in turn, induces electrical currents in the ground. "This kind of ground current surge normally precedes beautiful Northern Lights," notes Stammes. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras tonight.

Dec. 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Decembers: 2007, 2006, 2005, 2001, 2000]

SUNSET PLANETS: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look southwest. The crecent Moon and Venus are beaming brightly through the sunset:

"I'm glad I finished work early today," says photographer Alan C Tough of Elgin, Scotland. "It was a beautiful sight!"

The view improves tomorrow night when Venus and the Moon converge for a New Year's Eve conjunction visible through thin clouds, city lights and even fireworks. It's a nice way to end the year; don't miss it! Sky maps: Dec. 30, 31.

more images: from Babak Tafreshi of Dasht-e Kavir (Great Salt Desert), Semnan Province, Iran; from Martin Adamovsky of Pilsen observatory, Czech Republic; from Amir H. Abolfath of Tehran, Iran; from Valentin Grigore of Targoviste, Romania; from Albert Engert of W├╝rzburg, BY, Germany; from Chris Bushnall of Northampton, UK; from Freddy Diaz of Cordova, Tennessee; from Robbie Merrill of Mesa, Arizona; from Jonathon Stone of Cullman, Alabama; from Piotr Majewski of Torun, Poland; from Tamas Ladanyi of Tes, Hungary; from Peter and John Stetson of Portland, Maine;

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 30, 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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