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Science news and information about the Sun-Earth environment.

SPACE WEATHER
Current
Conditions

Solar Wind

speed: 490.7 km/s
density:
5.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
C1 1915 UT Jan12
24-hr: C1 0840 UT Jan12
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 12 Jan '04
Sunspot 537 poses a threat for X-class solar flares. Image credit: SOHO/MDI

Sunspot Number: 53
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 11 Jan 2004

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.5 nT
Bz:
0.1 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT

Coronal Holes:

Solar wind gusts flowing from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth as early as Jan. 16th. Image credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope.


SPACE WEATHER
NOAA
Forecasts

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 12 2200 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 50 % 50 %
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 12 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 10 % 10 %
MINOR 01 % 01 %
SEVERE 01 % 01 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 15 % 15 %
MINOR 05 % 05 %
SEVERE 01 % 01 %

What's Up in Space -- 12 Jan 2004
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SOLAR ACTIVITY: Sunspot 537 has a "beta-gamma-delta class" magnetic field that harbors energy for powerful X-class solar flares. NOAA forecasters estimate a 15% chance of such an explosion during the next 24 hours. [aurora gallery]

COLD SNAP: The air was filled with ice crystals this weekend in New England and parts of Canada where temperatures dipped 30o below zero C. That made it a good time to look for icy sundogs, pillars and rings of light in the sky. Lauri Kangas of Ontario, Canada, took this picture on Jan. 10th. It looks like the sun, but it's actually a brilliant sundog: (continued below)


Click to view more of Lauri's images: #1, #2, #3.

Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley notes that "very cold weather can make diamond dust ice crystals close to the ground. These crystals produce bright sparkling halos on sunny days. Also," he adds, "low humidity polar air tends to be clear, allowing halos from high-level thin cirrus to be more easily seen."

More cold weather is coming to New England this week. So if you live there, or any place where it is very cold, pay attention to the sky. "Diamond dust sometimes produces exceedingly rare halos. Look beyond the bright ones," encourages Cowley. "Are there halos for example twice as far from the sun as the bright sundogs? Are there halos elsewhere in the sky? You might spot the rarity."

DAYLIGHT JUPITER: The planet Jupiter is bright enough to see in broad daylight--if you know where to look. Today it's easy, because Jupiter is so close to the Moon. Using the Moon as a landmark, you can scan the sky with a pair of binoculars and ... Pop! ... Jupiter emerges from the blue background. It's a pleasant surprise. Becky Ramotowski of Albuquerque, New Mexico, took this picture of the pair today:

"For two months in a row now I've seen Jupiter during the daytime," says Becky. "This shot I made using a Nikon digital camera hand held to one ocular of my 8 x 56 binoculars."



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 12 Jan 2004 there were 565 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

December 2003 Earth-asteroid encounters
ASTEROID

 MISS DISTANCE

 MAG.
2003 YS17

Jan 14

14 LD

 17
2001 BE10

Jan 15

23 LD

 14
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 lmsal.com.

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

GLOSSARY | SPACE WEATHER TUTORIAL

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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