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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: 642.8 km/s
1.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2244 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
B8 1755 UT Jan07
24-hr: M7 1025 UT Jan07
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 07 Jan '04
Sunspot 536 poses a threat for X-class solar flares. Image credit: SOHO/MDI

Sunspot Number: 78
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 06 Jan 2004

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.6 nT
1.5 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Coronal Holes:

Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. 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 07 2200 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 65 % 65 %
CLASS X 15 % 15 %

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 07 2200 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 35 % 30 %
MINOR 25 % 20 %
SEVERE 15 % 10 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 15 % 25 %
MINOR 50 % 35 %
SEVERE 25 % 20 %

What's Up in Space -- 7 Jan 2004
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SOLAR OUTLOOK: Solar activity is high. Sunspots 537 and 538 have both unleashed strong M-class solar flares this week, and they pose a threat for even stronger X-class explosions. NOAA forecasters estimate a 20% chance of an X-flare during the next 24 hours. Auroras are possible in the days ahead as a result of this activity.

WEAK IMPACT: A coronal mass ejection, hurled into space by sunspot 536, hit Earth's magnetic field on Jan. 6th at 2200 UT, but it was only a glancing blow. A mild geomagnetic storm began soon after the weak impact and quickly subsided. Right: Auroras over Fairbanks, Alaska, during the Jan. 6th geomagnetic storm. Credit: Tony Birdsall.

BIG SUNSPOT: Sunspot 536 is big, about six times wider than Earth. Astronomers call this a "naked-eye" sunspot because you can see it without a telescope--but beware. Staring at the sun can damage your eyes. If you want to see sunspot 536, try these safe solar observing techniques.

In Nice, France, Micheal Benvenuto noticed the sunspot on January 3rd while he was taking pictures of the setting sun. It's the dark smudge on the left hand side of the solar disk:

Click to view the complete sunset sequence: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5. The sun looks distorted in Micheal's pictures because Earth's atmosphere acts like a giant lens, flattening the low sun and bending it into strange shapes.

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 7 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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