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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: 611.0 km/s
1.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
C3 1950 UT Dec22
24-hr: C3 0045 UT Dec22
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 21 Dec '03
Sunspots 525 and 528 pose a threat for M-class solar flares. Image credit: SOHO MDI

The Far Side of the Sun

This holographic image reveals perhaps one small sunspot group on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI

Sunspot Number: 105
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 21 Dec 2003

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.4 nT
2.5 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Coronal Holes:

Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal holeImage 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 2003 Dec 22 2200 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 2003 Dec 22 2200 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 30 % 15 %
MINOR 05 % 01 %
SEVERE 01 % 01 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 35 % 20 %
MINOR 10 % 05 %
SEVERE 05 % 01 %

What's Up in Space -- 22 Dec 2003
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AURORA WATCH: Geomagnetic activity is low. A high-speed solar wind stream is buffeting our planet's magnetic field today, but the interplanetary magnetic field near Earth is tilting north--a condition which discourages geomagnetic storms and auroras.

FIGURE 8: If you marked the position of a sunbeam on the floor at the same time each day, would it remain in the same spot? The answer is no, and the figure-8 shape traced out over the course of a year is called an analemma. "Cary Rand started this analemma on Feb. 6, 2003," says John Stetson of the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland, Maine. "The last observation, which is on the wall above Cary's head, was recorded about 18 hrs before the northern winter solstice--which is Dec. 22nd at 0704 UT. The sun will reach an altitude of only 23 degrees here today."

SUBHORIZON HALOS: Jonathan Demery was skiing in the French Alps on Dec. 10th when he saw two columns of light materialize in front of him. "I had to stop and take this picture," he says. "It was such a remarkable sight."

Atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley explains: "These are subhorizon halos. The elongated streak at left is a combination of a subsun and a lower sun pillar. The halo to the right is a subparhelion. The subsun is a direct reflection of the sun from the near horizontal faces of millions of diamond dust plate crystals. The subparhelion is produced like an ordinary sundog from plate crystals but there is an additional internal reflection from one of the horizontal faces."

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 22 Dec 2003 there were 550 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

November 2003 Earth-asteroid encounters


2003 UC20

Dec 2

32 LD

2003 XJ7

Dec 6

0.4 LD

2003 WY25

Dec 12

10 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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