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<<back forward>> -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
Science news and information about the Sun-Earth environment.


Solar Wind

speed: 574.7 km/s
5.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2219 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
C2 2240 UT Jan01
24-hr: C6 0655 UT Jan01
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Note: Because of the holidays, daily images of the sun from SOHO are temporarily unavailable.

Daily Sun: 26 Dec '03
Sunspot 528 poses a threat for M-class solar flares. Image credit: SOHO MDI

The Far Side of the Sun

This holographic image reveals a substantial sunspot group on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI

Sunspot Number: 25
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 31 Jan 2003

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.7 nT
3.3 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Coronal Holes:

There are no big coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun today. Image credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope.


Solar Flares: Probabilities for a medium-sized (M-class) or a major (X-class) solar flare during the next 24/48 hours are tabulated below.
Updated at 2004 Jan 01 2200 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 15 % 15 %
CLASS X 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 2004 Jan 01 2200 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 25 % 25 %
MINOR 10 % 05 %
SEVERE 05 % 01 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 35 % 30 %
MINOR 10 % 10 %
SEVERE 05 % 01 %

What's Up in Space -- 1 Jan 2004
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WEEKEND METEORS: The annual Quadrantid meteor shower peaks this weekend. Forecasters expect a flurry of meteors, perhaps 25 to 60 per hour, sometime between 0600 UT and 0800 UT (1:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. EST) on Sunday morning, January 4th. The timing favors western Europe and eastern parts of North America. [sky map]

Right: A Quadrantid meteor, Jan. 3, 2003. Credit: Frankie Lucena of Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.

Bright moonlight will interfere with the shower, to a degree. Try standing in the shadow of a building or hill, or wait to look until the wee hours before dawn when the moon is low. Got clouds? Or too much moonlight? Even if you can't see the Quadrantids, you can still hear them. Simply click one of our meteor radar links below:

Notes: Our radar monitoring sites are operated by engineer Stan Nelson. NAVSPASUR is the Naval Space Surveillance Radar. Echoes from Quadrantids sound like this.

BROCKEN SPECTRE: Climber Arne Danielsen was scaling Sicily's Mount Etna in Sept. 2003 when he turned around and saw this ghostly apparition: (continued below)

"I have seen this many times from airplanes, but this was the first time I was able to see and photograph it from the ground!" he says. It's not really a ghost following Danielsen around. It's the Brocken Spectre--so named because of sightings on the Brocken, the highest peak of Germany's Harz Mountains.

Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley explains: "The Brocken Spectre appears when a low sun is behind the climber who is looking down from a ridge or peak into mist." The colorful rings are glory--sunlight backscattered from tiny water droplets. And the ghostly figure? "It is no more than the shadow of the climber projected forward through the mist."

SOLAR WIND: Today Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from a coronal hole on the sun. This is stirring mild geomagnetic storms and some auroras at high latitudes.

SATURN: Beautiful, breathtaking, jaw-dropping, improbably ringed Saturn: It's at its best this week. Saturn is brighter and closer to Earth than it will be again for the next 29 years. Get the full story from Science@NASA. [sky map]

Right: Saturn and one of its moons, photographed by Geoff Chester of the U.S. Naval Observatory on Dec. 13th. [more]

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 are on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.

On 1 Jan 2004 there were 562 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

December 2003 Earth-asteroid encounters


2003 YS17

Jan 14

14 LD

2001 BE10

Jan 15

23 LD

Notes: LD is a "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 Environment Center -- The official U.S. government bureau for real-time monitoring of solar and geophysical events, research in solar-terrestrial physics, and forecasting solar and geophysical disturbances.

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. (European Mirror Site)

Daily Sunspot Summaries -- from the NOAA Space Environment Center.

Current Solar Images --a gallery of up-to-date solar pictures from the National Solar Data Analysis Center at the Goddard Space Flight Center. See also the GOES-12 Soft X-ray Imager.

Recent Solar Events -- a nice summary of current solar conditions from

SOHO Farside Images of the Sun from SWAN and MDI.

The Latest SOHO Coronagraph Images -- from the Naval Research Lab

The Sun from Earth -- daily images of our star from the Big Bear Solar Observatory

List of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

Observable Comets -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

What is the Interplanetary Magnetic Field? -- A lucid answer from the University of Michigan. See also the Anatomy of Earth's Magnetosphere.

Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from NASA's ACE spacecraft. How powerful are solar wind gusts? Read this story from Science@NASA.

More Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Proton Monitor.

Aurora Forecast --from the University of Alaska's Geophysical Institute

Daily Solar Flare and Sunspot Data -- from the NOAA Space Environment Center.

Lists of Coronal Mass Ejections -- from 1998 to 2001

What is an Iridium flare? See also Photographing Satellites by Brian Webb.

Vandenberg AFB missile launch schedule.

What is an Astronomical Unit, or AU?

Mirages: Mirages in Finland; An Introduction to Mirages;

NOAA Solar Flare and Sunspot Data: 1999; 2000; 2001; 2002; Jan-Mar., 2003; Apr-Jun., 2003;

Recent International Astronomical Union Circulars


Editor's Note: This site is sponsored by Science@NASA. Space weather and other forecasts that appear here are formulated by Dr. Tony Phillips. They should not be construed as guarantees of space weather or other celestial activity.

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