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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Current conditions
Solar wind
speed: 295.5 km/sec
density: 0.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A0
2245 UT Dec29
24-hr: A0
2245 UT Dec29
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2245 UT
Daily Sun: 29 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
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 28 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: 1.1 nT
Bz: 0.7 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 Dec. 30th or 31st. Credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2008 Dec 29 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 29 2201 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
05 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
05 %
10 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
01 %
What's up in Space
December 29, 2008

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


AURORA WATCH: A solar wind stream is heading for Earth and it could cause geomagnetic storms when it arrives late on Dec. 30th or 31st. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

SUNSET PLANETS: When the sun goes down tonight, step outside and look southwest. That bright light high in the sky is Venus. From there, trace a line down into the sunset. Along the way you'll run into the crescent Moon, Jupiter and Mercury:

Photo details: Canon EOS 5D, ISO 800, 200 mm f/1.8 lens, 1.6s

"I took this picture tonight from the countryside near Tavas, Turkey," says photographer Tunç Tezel. "The triplet reminded me of the Great Conjunction of December 1st. But in this case the low-hanging trio had even nicer twilight colors."

The Moon is en route to Venus for a spectacular conjunction on Dec. 31st. On New Year's Eve, the two brightest objects in the night sky will shine through city lights and even fireworks--so everyone can enjoy the show. It's a nice way to end the year. Sky maps: Dec. 29, 30, 31.

more photos: from Piotr Majewski of Torun, Poland; from Tamas Ladanyi of Tes, Hungary; from Peter and John Stetson of Portland, Maine; from Günther Strauch of Borken, NRW, Germany; from Scott Calvin of San Francisco, California; from Pete Glastonbury of Devizes, Wiltshire, UK; from Gonzalo Vargas of Cochabamba, Bolivia; from Mohammad Soltanolkottabi of Kashan, Iran; from Mustafa Erol of Antalya, Turkey; from Koshu Endo of Kanagawa, Japan; from Masa Nakamura of Otawara, Tochigi, Japan;

from Rick Ulrich of Springdale, Arkansas; from Ginger Mayfield of Divide, Colorado; from Doug Zubenel of Wabaunsee County, Kansas;

SHADOWS OF VENUS: The legend is true. Venus is bright enough to cast shadows. The silhouette on this white screen is framed by the light of the Goddess of Love:

Play the movie: 3 MB Quicktime

French photographer Laurent Laveder took the picture and here he explains how it was done: "On Christmas evening, I went to the beach to capture the inconspicuous shadows cast by Venus. I positioned my camera (a Canon 40D) between Venus and the screen and then I made several 30 second exposures at 1600 ISO with a Sigma 30mm lens open at 1.4. The camera's shadow showed up quite nicely."

Stitching together consecutive exposures, Laveder created a must-see movie. It shows the shadow moving up as Venus descends into the waves behind the camera.

Readers, now is the time to catch your own Venus shadow. The crescent Moon sets just after the sun, so the only light in dark places belongs to Venus herself. Give it a try.

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 29, 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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