Love Has Won


We Are The First Contact Ground Crew Team, who are preparing to take Humanity Home Into The Light.

Space Weather Update: 12/06/2015

By, 12/06/2015

SIGMA HYDRID METEORS: On the nights of Dec. 3rd and 4th, NASA's network of all-sky meteor cameras recorded 16 fireballs from the sigma Hydrid meteoroid stream. Earth passes through the sigma Hydrid stream every year in early- to mid- December; the source of the debris is unknown. Typically, the shower produces no more than 1 or 2 faint meteors per hour. The detection of 16 bright fireballs in only a couple of nights suggests that sigma Hydrid activity could be higher than usual. Listen for sigma Hydrid echoes in the audio feed from our live meteor radar.

DAWN COMET HAS TWO TAILS: Now that the morning Moon is waning in brightness, amateur astronomers are once again getting a good view of Comet Catalina. Images reveal not one, but two tails. Akihiro Yamazaki sends this picture from Yamanashi, Japan, taken Dec. 4th:


"This is a 36 x 30 second exposure through my 6-inch Astro-Physics telescope," says Yamazaki. "I used a SONY-A7S digital camera set at ISO 2500."

Why does Comet Catalina have two tails? Almost all comets do. The sun-warmed nucleus of a comet spews a mixture of dust and gas into space. Quickly, the mixture separates into two distinct tails: The gaseous "ion tail" is pushed straight away from the sun by solar wind. The weightier dust tail resists solar wind pressure and aligns itself more or less with the comet's orbit. In Yamazaki's picture of Comet Catalina, the ion tail points up; the dust tail points down.

This is Comet Catalina's first visit to the inner solar system--and its last. The comet's close encounter with the sun in mid-November has placed it on a slingshot trajectory toward interstellar space. Although the comet is leaving the solar system, it will become easier to see in the weeks ahead as it approaches Earth. At the moment the comet shines like a 7th magnitude star--invisible to the naked eye. It could brighten by one or two magnitude by mid-January. Sky maps and observing tips may be found in this article from Sky and Telescope.

A date of special interest is Dec. 7th when the comet pairs up with the planet Venus and the waning crescent Moon in the early morning sky. Catalina will be about 4odegrees away from the Venus-Moon combo. Stay tuned for more information about that, and meanwhile browse the realtime comet gallery for sightings. Backyard astronomy alerts: text or voice

Realtime Comet Photo Gallery

SPACECRAFT BUZZES EARTH, PROCEEDS TO ASTEROID: Japan's Hayabusa 2 spacecraft swung past Earth on Dec 3rd at 7:08 p.m. JST, passing over the Pacific Ocean around the Hawaiian islands at an altitude of about 3,090 km. JAXA (the Japanese space agency) has just released these images of our planet taken by the speeding probe:


More images are available here with captions in Japanese.

The flyby was a slingshot maneuver designed to propel Hayabusa 2 toward asteroid Ryugu, the target of an ambitious sample return mission in 2018-2020. JAXA says the spacecraft is in good health following its close encounter with Earth. [press release]

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery

Realtime Meteor Photo Gallery

 All Sky Fireball Network

Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented here on

On Dec. 5, 2015, the network reported 41 fireballs.
(32 sporadics, 8 sigma Hydrids, 1 Geminid)

In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]

 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 6, 2015 there were 1637 potentially hazardous asteroids.

Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:Asteroid


Miss Distance


2007 BG29

Dec 1

54.1 LD

1.1 km

2015 WZ12

Dec 1

8.8 LD

23 m

2015 XP

Dec 5

1.4 LD

31 m

2015 WA13

Dec 6

7.5 LD

24 m

2015 WF13

Dec 7

10.8 LD

81 m

2015 VZ145

Dec 8

9.2 LD

80 m

2015 XC

Dec 8

3.3 LD

39 m

2015 XV1

Dec 9

6.4 LD

18 m

1998 WT24

Dec 11

10.9 LD

1.1 km

2015 XE1

Dec 19

13.2 LD

27 m

2011 YD29

Dec 24

9.7 LD

24 m

2003 SD220

Dec 24

28.4 LD

1.8 km

2008 CM

Dec 29

22.8 LD

1.5 km

2004 MQ1

Jan 2

55.4 LD

1.1 km

1999 JV6

Jan 6

12.6 LD

410 m

1685 Toro

Jan 22

60.9 LD

1.7 km

2001 XR1

Jan 23

74.4 LD

1.5 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.

 Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere

Situation Report -- Oct. 30, 2015Stratospheric Radiation (+37o N)

Cosmic ray levels are elevated(+6.1% above the Space Age median). The trend is flat. Cosmic ray levels have increased +0% in the past month.

Sept. 06: 4.14 uSv/hr (414 uRad/hr)

Sept. 12: 4.09 uSv/hr (409 uRad/hr)

Sept. 23: 4.12 uSv/hr (412 uRad/hr)

Sept. 25: 4.16 uSv/hr (416 uRad/hr)

Sept. 27: 4.13 uSv/hr (413 uRad/hr)

Oct. 11: 4.02 uSv/hr (402 uRad/hr)

Oct. 22: 4.11 uSv/hr (411 uRad/hr)

These measurements are based on regular space weather balloon flights: learn more.

Approximately once a week, and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus fly "space weather balloons" to the stratosphere over California. These balloons are equipped with radiation sensors that detect cosmic rays, a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. Cosmic rays can seed cloudstrigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. Our measurements show that someone flying back and forth across the continental USA, just once, can absorb as much ionizing radiation as 2 to 5 dental X-rays. Here is the data from our latest flight, Oct. 22nd:

Radiation levels peak at the entrance to the stratosphere in a broad region called the "Pfotzer Maximum." This peak is named after physicist George Pfotzer who discovered it using balloons and Geiger tubes in the 1930s. Radiation levels there are more than 80x sea level.

Note that the bottom of the Pfotzer Maximim is near 55,000 ft. This means that some high-flying aircraft are not far from the zone of maximum radiation. Indeed, according to the Oct 22th measurements, a plane flying at 45,000 feet is exposed to 2.79 uSv/hr. At that rate, a passenger would absorb about one dental X-ray's worth of radiation in about 5 hours.

The radiation sensors onboard our helium balloons detect X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

Current Conditions

Solar wind
speed: 546.7 km/sec
density: 3.2 protons/cm3

explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1508 UTX-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B3 
1117 UT Dec06 
24-hr: B7 0651 UT Dec06 
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 1500 UTDaily Sun: 05 Dec 15Sunspots AR2462 and AR2463 are crackling with minor C-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 41 
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 05 Dec 2015

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2015 total: 0 days (0%) 

2014 total: 1 day (<1%)
2013 total: 0 days (0%)
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)

Updated 05 Dec 2015

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 98 sfu

explanation | more data
Updated 05 Dec 2015

Current Auroral Oval:

Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/OvationPlanetary K-index
Now: Kp= 5 storm
24-hr max: Kp= 5 
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 9.8 nT
Bz: 1.7 nT south 

explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1508 UTCoronal Holes: 05 Dec 15 
Solar wind flowing from this broad coronal hole could reach Earth as early as Dec. 7th. Credit: SDO/AIA.Noctilucent Clouds The southern season for noctilucent clouds is about to begin. Monitor the daily daisies, below, from NASA's AIM spacecraft for the first wisps of electric blue above Antarctica.

Switch view: Ross Ice Shelf, Antarctic Peninsula, East Antarctica, PolarUpdated at: 12-05-2015 16:55:02

NOAA Forecasts

Updated at: 2015 Dec 05 2200 UTC


0-24 hr

24-48 hr


05 %

05 %


01 %

01 %

Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: activeminor stormsevere stormUpdated at: 2015 Dec 05 2200 UTCMid-latitudes

0-24 hr

24-48 hr


35 %

35 %


20 %

20 %


05 %

05 %

High latitudes

0-24 hr

24-48 hr


10 %

10 %


30 %

30 %


55 %

55 %