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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: 715.5 km/s
3.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2244 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
C1 2240 UT Jan06
24-hr: M4 0630 UT Jan06
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 06 Jan '04
Sunspot 536 poses a threat for X-class solar flares. Image credit: SOHO/MDI

Sunspot Number: 80
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 05 Jan 2004

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 14.7 nT
8.8 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 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 06 2200 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 70 % 70 %
CLASS X 20 % 20 %

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 06 2200 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 40 % 40 %
MINOR 25 % 25 %
SEVERE 15 % 15 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 25 % 25 %
MINOR 35 % 35 %
SEVERE 30 % 30 %

What's Up in Space -- 6 Jan 2004
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SATURN & THE MOON: Step outside tonight around 8:30 p.m. (local time) and look east. You'll see the full moon pleasingly close to the ringed planet Saturn. [sky map]

Would you like a call when auroras appear over your hometown? Sign up for Spaceweather PHONE.

HERE COMES THE SUN: A solar coronal mass ejection (CME) is en route to Earth today. It was hurled into space by an M7-class explosion near sunspot 536 on January 5th at 0345 UT. Sky watchers should be alert for possible auroras on January 6th or 7th when the CME sweeps past our planet.

BIG SUNSPOT: Sunspot 536 is big, about six times wider than Earth. Jose Suro of Tierra Verde, Florida, captured the spot in this Jan. 5th photo of the setting sun. It's just above the seagull: (continued below)

You can see this sunspot, too, but never look directly at the sun. Always use safe solar observing methods to avoid eye damage.

In addition to the sunspot in Suro's image, there's also a hint of the elusive green flash at the top of the sun's disk. This happens because Earth's atmosphere acts like a giant lens, distorting the shape and color of the setting sun. Green flashes are most often seen over distant ocean horizons; the sky must be clear and free of clouds all the way down to the horizon.

MARS: NASA's six-wheeled rover Spirit has landed on Mars and it's beaming some wonderful images to Earth. You've probably seen them on TV or on the web. Are you ready for a break from screens? When the sun sets tonight, step outside, face south and look up. Mars is easy to see. It's bright and butterscotch-colored, one of the first "stars" to emerge as the sky grows dark. [sky map] Above: Click on the image to view a 3D panorama of Spirit's landing site in Gusev Crater.

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 6 Jan 2004 there were 564 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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