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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: 536.8 km/s
density:
1.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2221 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
B4 1915 UT Dec27
24-hr: B5 0035 UT Dec27
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 26 Dec '03
Sunspot 528 poses a threat for M-class solar flares. Image credit: SOHO MDI

The Far Side of the Sun

This holographic image reveals a substantial sunspot group on the far side of the sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI


Sunspot Number: 65
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 26 Dec 2003

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 12.0 nT
Bz:
3.8 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT

Coronal Holes:

There are no big coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun today. 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 2003 Dec 27 2200 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 30 % 30 %
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 27 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 15 % 10 %
MINOR 05 % 01 %
SEVERE 01 % 01 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 20 % 15 %
MINOR 05 % 05 %
SEVERE 01 % 01 %

What's Up in Space -- 27 Dec 2003
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CHRISTMAS CONJUNCTION: When the sun set on Christmas Day, sky watchers looked west and saw a beautiful conjunction between Venus and the crescent moon. The two were bright enough to see even before the sky grew dark--as in this picture from Dan Bush of Albany, Missouri. Visit our gallery to see more such photos from around the world.

'TIS THE SEASON.... for Christmas, but not for auroras. The weeks around the December solstice are, statistically speaking, a poor time for aurora watching--and not only because it's cold outside. Geomagnetic activity genuinely ebbs at this time of year. Click here to find out why.

BIG SUNSPOTS: There are two big spots on the sun today--one visible and one invisible. The invisible sunspot is on the far side of the sun. We know it's there because of helioseismology. If this farside sunspot persists for a while, the sun's 27-day rotation will carry it around to the sun's southeastern limb where we can see it on or about New Year's Day.

The visible one is sunspot 538, which sprawls 13 Earth diameters from end to end and poses a threat for M-class solar flares. You can see this sunspot, easily, but never look directly at the sun. Always practice safe solar observing!

Above: Big sunspot 528 is dimly visible just above the limbs of the trees in this Dec. 24th sunset picture from Hong Kong. Credit: Cindy Safina.

SUN HALO: Steve Sprengel of Lincoln, Nebraska, took this picture on Dec. 25th when the setting sun dipped behind an oak tree in his front yard. "The cloud-veiled sun was flanked by a pair of sundogs and a beautiful halo," he says.

Sundogs and halos are caused by ice crystals in cirrus clouds. The crystals bend and refract sunlight into beautiful patterns. When you see a late afternoon halo or 'dog, wait a while and look again. You might see a sun pillar springing up from the horizon at sunset. They're caused by ice crystals, too.



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 27 Dec 2003 there were 550 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

November 2003 Earth-asteroid encounters
ASTEROID

 MISS DISTANCE

 MAG.
2003 UC20

Dec 2

32 LD

 15
2003 XJ7

Dec 6

0.4 LD

 13
2003 WY25

Dec 12

10 LD

 15
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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