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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 426.3 km/sec
density: 1.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1942 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
1945 UT Dec05
24-hr: A0
1945 UT Dec05
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1945 UT
Daily Sun: 05 Dec 08
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SOHO/MDI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 03 Dec. 2008
Far side of the Sun:
This holographic image reveals no sunspots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
explanation | more data
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
What is the auroral oval?
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 10.7 nT
Bz: 3.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1947 UT
Coronal Holes:
Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Dec 04 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 04 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
30 %
15 %
10 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
35 %
20 %
15 %
10 %
05 %
05 %
What's up in Space
December 5, 2008
NORTHERN LIGHTS: Did you sleep through the auroras of November? Next time get a wake-up call: Spaceweather PHONE.  

MONSTER PROMINENCE: Readers, if you have a solar telescope, train it on the sun's eastern limb. A large plume of plasma is dancing there and may soon erupt: SOHO image.

more images: from Hank Bartlett of Newburgh, Ontario, Canada; from Stephen Ames of Hodgenville, Kentucky;

GREAT CONJUNCTION: When things on the ground are lousy, sometimes it helps to look at the sky. On Dec. 1st, Venus, Jupiter and the Moon gathered over India and smiled down on troubled Mumbai:

"After the terrorist attack, Mumbaikars were grieving their friends who passed away," says photographer Ulhas Deshpande, "This apparition in the heavens came as a blessing and encouraged them to carry on."

Best wishes to the people of Mumbai from Keep looking up.

UPDATED: Great Conjunction Photo Gallery

TUMBLING TOOLBAG: The space station's famous sidekick, the ISS Toolbag, is circling Earth and producing flashes of light bright enough to record using off-the-shelf digital cameras. Peter Rosén sends this report from downtown Stockholm, Sweden:

"I photographed the toolbag when it passed above the moon on Dec. 3rd. It was invisible to the naked eye, but my camera (a Canon 40D) detected it in a series of 4 second exposures. The toolbag must be rotating as the light seems to flash and disappear." (continued below)

Photo details: Canon 40D, 85mm lens, f/1.2, ISO 100, 26 x 4 sec

He combined 26 images to create this composite. "The other paths are from airplanes; the short interruptions in their lights are caused by the lag between shots." Longer "black-outs" in the path of the toolbag appear to be genuine, a result of tumbling and flashing.

Readers, the toolbag and the ISS are making a series of evening passes over Europe and North America this weekend. Check the Simple Satellite Tracker for flyby times.

Nov. 2008 Aurora Gallery
[Previous Novembers: 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 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 5, 2008 there were 1006 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. 13
4.3 LD
102 m
2006 VB14
Dec. 14
36 LD
795 m
2008 EV5
Dec. 23
8.4 LD
435 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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