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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Solar wind
speed: 311.6 km/sec
density: 1.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2257 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B2
1749 UT Dec11
24-hr: B4
1117 UT Dec11
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 11 Dec 10
Sunspots 1131 and 1133 continue their quiet ways, producing no significant solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI 2-day movie: 9 MB mpg
Sunspot number: 33
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 10 Dec 2010

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2010 total: 45 days (13%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Since 2004: 813 days
Typical Solar Min: 486 days

Updated 10 Dec 2010

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 88 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 10 Dec 2010

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 0 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 0
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.8 nT
Bz: 2.1 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2242 UT
Coronal Holes: 11 Dec 10
A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on Dec. 11th or 12th. Credit: SDO/AIA.
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2010 Dec 11 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 11 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
15 %
15 %
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
25 %
25 %
15 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010
What's up in space

iPHONE VS ANDROID! Actually, it doesn't matter which phone you carry. Our cool, new app turns both smartphones into field-tested satellite trackers. Learn more.


AURORA WATCH: NOAA forecasters have downgraded the chances of geomagnetic activity during the next 24 hours to 25%. Even so, high-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras as a solar wind stream approaches Earth.

GEMINID METEOR UPDATE: Go outside at midnight and stare at the sky for six minutes. Right now, that's about how long it takes to see a Geminid meteor, according to counts posted by the International Meteor Organization. The pace will pick up in the nights ahead as Earth plunges deeper into the Geminid debris stream. On peak night, Dec. 13th-14th, meteor rates could jump as high as 120 per hour, reducing the wait from six minutes to a mere 30 seconds.

On Dec. 10th, amateur astronomer Marsha Adams photographed a bright Geminid over Sedona, Arizona. "I passed the light through a diffraction grating to record both the meteor and its spectrum." See the circled pair, below:

The other spectra in the image correspond to stars and city lights. Adams notes that the Geminid spectrum is different. "It has two bright lines, one green and one yellow-red, [features which are absent in the other spectra]." These spectral lines may be clues to the chemical make-up and mysterious origin of Geminid meteoroids.

Stay tuned for more colorful Geminids in the nights ahead.

PLAN B: Got clouds? If you can't see the Geminids, you can listen to them instead on Space Weather Radio. We're transmitting live meteor echoes from the US Air Force Space Surveillance Radar in Kickapoo, Texas.

BUSY ICE HALO: In Stockholm, Sweden, the sun was only up for a little while Wednesday, but it made good use of its time. Sunbeams lanced through ice crystals in the air, producing a busy halo of surpassing beauty:

"This was the most spectacular sun halo I have seen in recent years from Stockholm," says photographer Peter Rosén. "It was visible for the whole (short) day." In addition to the sundogs, upper tangent arc, and 22° halo captured in the snapshot above, Rosén also witnessed "a 46° outer halo and a circumzenithal arc as ice crystals blew in gusts across the sun. What a show!"

Now is the time of year when low-hanging suns shine through high-floating ice to produce such vistas. People of the northern hemisphere should be alert for halos.

more images: from Jörgen Blom of Stockholm, Sweden; from Merelyn Davis of Burbank, CA; from Paul Ballard of Kungälv, Sweden; from Gary Brekke of Fargo, ND; from Shawn Johnston of Fargo, ND; from Joanna Fengler of Poznan, Poland

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 11, 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...
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