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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: 342.9 km/s
5.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max:
A0 2140 UT Feb20
24-hr: A0 2140 UT Feb20
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 20 Feb '07

These sunspots pose no threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI

Sunspot Number: 26
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 19 Feb 2007

Far Side of the Sun

This holographic image reveals no spots on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.4 nT
1.5 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT

Coronal Holes:

Coronal hole data is temporarily unavailable while SOHO's ultraviolet telescope undergoes a CCD bakeout.


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 2007 Feb 20 2203 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 2007 Feb 20 2203 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 15 % 15 %
MINOR 10 % 10 %
SEVERE 05 % 05 %

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

What's Up in Space -- 20 Feb 2007
Subscribe to Space Weather News

The space shuttle flies in March. Would you like a call when it soars over your backyard? Spaceweather PHONE!

SPACE STATION MOVIE: Have you ever seen a spaceship through your backyard telescope? Ralf Vandebergh did on Feb. 17th when the International Space Station flew over his hometown in the Netherlands. Using a 10-inch telescope and an off-the-shelf webcam, he recorded this must-see movie.

MYSTERY BURN: Last night at the Siding Springs Observatory in New South Wales, Australia, astrophotographer Gordon Garradd witnessed a glowing cloud in the sky. "It looked like a rocket burn." He took this picture at 17:30 UT on Feb. 19th:

Photo details: Nikon D200, 85mm lens @ f/1.6, ISO 500, 4 sec exposure.

"I've seen rocket burns before and there is no doubt the cloud is rocket exhaust," says Garradd. "However, this is much larger than any I have seen before, such as Cassini. It makes me wonder if I saw a controlled burn or an explosion."

The cloud contained a swarm of small objects. To display their motions, Garradd is assembling a movie from his photos. The movie will also show the cloud drifting slowly across the sky. "It was visible for nearly an hour," he says. The burning question: If this was a rocket burn, what rocket was it? Ideas welcomed!

UPDATE: Others photographed the same cloud. "I was lucky enough to be shooting the exact part of sky that this object appeared in," reports Ray Palmer of the Golden Grove Observatory in Chittering, Australia. "I have no idea what it was, but it grew in size and moved quickly. I managed to view it for 35 minutes: image." Yet another photo of the cloud comes from Tim Thorpe at the Bull Creek Ranges in Meadows, South Australia. "Quite a surreal scene," he says.

FALSE AURORAS: There was no solar flare, no CME and no geomagnetic storm. So what were these auroras doing over Fred Kuipers' backyard in Kitchener, Ontario on Feb. 18th? Answer: They're not auroras.

Photo details: Canon Powershot S3 IS, f/3.5, 10s exposure, ISO 200

"They're light pillars," says Kuipers. The air that night was filled with ice crystals. Urban lights reflecting from the crystals created the pillars. "They were very vivid and resembled auroras."

Keep an eye out for light pillars whenever the night air is very cold. For real auroras, click here.

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 is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.

On 20 Feb 2007 there were 843 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

Feb-Mar 2007 Earth-asteroid encounters




2006 AM4

Feb. 1

5.2 LD


180 m
2007 BZ48

Feb. 7

4.5 LD


30 m
2006 VV2

Mar. 31

8.8 LD


2 km
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 -- from the National Solar Data Analysis Center

Recent Solar Events -- a summary of current solar conditions from

What is the Magnetosphere?

The Lion Roars -- visit this site to find out what the magnetosphere sounds like.

List of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

Observable Comets -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from NASA's ACE spacecraft.

How powerful are solar wind gusts? Not very! Read this story from Science@NASA.

More Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Proton Monitor.

Lists of Coronal Mass Ejections -- from 1996 to 2006

Mirages: Mirages in Finland; An Introduction to Mirages;

NOAA Solar Flare and Sunspot Data: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999; 2000; 2001; 2002; 2003; 2004; 2005; Jan-Mar 2006; Apr-Jun 2006; Jul-Sep 2006; Oct-Dec 2006.

This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips: email

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