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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: 601.9 km/s
2.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
C7 2000 UT Jan19
24-hr: C8 1240 UT Jan19
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 19 Jan '04
Sunspot 540 poses 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: 72
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 18 Jan 2004

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.6 nT
2.8 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 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 18 2210 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 20 % 20 %
CLASS X 05 % 05 %

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 2210 UTC
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 -- 19 Jan 2004
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MERCURY AT DAWN: Early risers today saw a pretty encounter between the planet Mercury and the crescent Moon, both rising just ahead of the morning sun. Here are some pictures of the event: from Dennis Mammana at the Panama Canal; from John Stetson of Portland, ME; from Robert Smith of Stoneville, NC; from Ginger Mayfield overlooking Pike's Peak, CO.

HERE COMES THE SUN: A coronal mass ejection (CME) might hit Earth's magnetic field after nightfall on Jan. 19th and spark auroras at high latitudes (e.g., in Alaska and Canada). The cloud was hurled into space by an M5-category explosion near sunspot 540 on Jan. 17th. [gallery]

Above: The Sun on Jan. 18th, photographed by Jack Newton using a red H-alpha filter. Note the looping solar filament near the top of the disk. It measures 50 Earth diameters from side to side. Sometimes filaments like these collapse and explode--an event astronomers call a "Hyder Flare."

MARS & VENUS: Today 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]

SNOW PILLARS: "As I left my workshop tonight, I saw this light pillar in the lightly falling snow," says Dave Fox of North Brookfield, New York. "The light source is the spotlight on the end of our house, which I blocked with the protruding board."

Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley comments: "When ice crystals are in the air look for light pillars and other halos around outdoor lights. This pillar is so well defined that it must have been made by small plate shaped ice or snow crystals floating downwards with their large mirror like faces horizontal. Larger crystals and flakes are randomly oriented and produce uniform glows and rings around lights like those made by the wet or frost rimed twigs on trees."

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 19 Jan 2004 there were 565 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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