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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids

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Science news and information about the Sun-Earth environment.

SPACE WEATHER
Current
Conditions

Solar Wind

speed: 580.2 km/s
density:
3.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2235 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
C3 2000 UT Jan18
24-hr: M1 0015 UT Jan18
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 17 Jan '04
Sunspots 537 and 540 pose a threat for M-class solar flares. Image credit: SOHO/MDI

The Far Side of the Sun

This holographic image reveals no big sunspots on the far side of the Sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI


Sunspot Number: 56
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 17 Jan 2004

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.1 nT
Bz:
2.5 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2236 UT

Coronal Holes:

Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. 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 18 2200 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 01 % 01 %
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 18 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 25 % 30 %
MINOR 10 % 15 %
SEVERE 05 % 05 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 30 % 40 %
MINOR 15 % 20 %
SEVERE 05 % 10 %

What's Up in Space -- 18 Jan 2004
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MARS & VENUS: This weekend Mars and Venus are about the same distance from Earth (~185 million miles), yet one is spectacularly brighter than the other. Why? Both planets shine by reflected sunlight and Venus is much closer to the Sun. Also, Venus' acid clouds are more reflective (~70%) than Mars' dusty surface (~10%). Go outside when the sun sets and face southwest. You'll see Venus near the horizon, dazzlingly bright, and Mars almost overhead, red and much dimmer than Venus. [sky map]

COLD SNAP: When the temperature drops and ice crystals fill the air, be alert for colorful pillars of light jutting into the sky. In Québec, Jean Chiasson photographed these on January 11th:

Nighttime light pillars are caused by city lights glinting through plate shaped ice crystals floating close to the ground. The pillars are beautiful--indeed, they're often likened to auroras--but also troubling. Reader Scott Griswald notes that "these pillars show how much light is shining up into the air rather than down on the ground where it is needed." Light pollution wipes out stars and meteor showers, and overwhelms genuine auroras. "The loss of our night sky will mean the eventual loss of wonder for future generations."

AURORA WATCH: Earth is exiting a solar wind stream that caused a mild geomagnetic storm and some auroras this weekend. Yuichi Takasaka recorded these over Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories of Canada on Jan. 16th. NOAA forecasters estimate a 5% chance of more geomagnetic storming at high latitudes tonight. [gallery]

MERCURY AT DAWN: If you're willing to wake up early on Monday, Jan. 19th, you can see the planet Mercury right beside the slender crescent Moon. Go outside at dawn and face east. The pair will be close to the horizon, rising just ahead of the morning sun. [sky map]



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 18 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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