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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: 283.8 km/s
5.3 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
C4 1955 UT Jan17
24-hr: X3 0950 UT Jan17
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 16 Jan '05

Giant sunspot 720 poses a continued threat for X-class solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI

Sunspot Number: 99
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 16 Jan 2005

Far Side of the Sun

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

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 12.5 nT
12.4 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT

Coronal Holes:

There are no large coronal holes on the Earth-facing side of the sun today. 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 2005 Jan 17 2200 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 90 % 90 %
CLASS X 30 % 30 %

Geomagnetic Storms: Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at 2005 Jan 17 2200 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 15 % 20 %
MINOR 50 % 50 %
SEVERE 35 % 30 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 10 % 10 %
MINOR 50 % 50 %
SEVERE 40 % 40 %

What's Up in Space -- 17 Jan 2005
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AURORA ALERT: If it's dark where you live, look outside. A strong geomagnetic storm is in progress after one (and possibly two) coronal mass ejections hit Earth's magnetic field this morning. Bright auroras have been sighted in Alaska and Canada.

Meanwhile, giant sunspot 720 has unleashed another big solar flare. The X3-class explosion peaked at 0950 GMT (4:50 am EST) on Jan. 17th and hurled a CME in our direction. The many speckles in this SOHO coronagraph image of the CME are caused by protons accelerated to light speed by the blast hitting SOHO's digital camera.

The incoming CME will hit Earth's magnetic field on Jan. 18th or 19th, possibly energizing another geomagnetic storm.

BIG SUNSPOT: Sunspot 720 is huge--about as wide as the planet Jupiter. Want to see it? It's easy: follow these safe solar observing tips.

Sunspot 720 and a passing airplane. Photo credit: Jan Koeman of Kloetinge, the Netherlands.

more images: from Didier Favre of Los Angeles, California, USA; from James Kevin Ty of Manila, the Philippines; from Peter Paice of Belfast, Northern Ireland; from Monty Leventhal of Sydney, Australia; from Howard Eskildsen of Ocala, Florida; from Wah! at the
Yuen Long Astrofarm in Hong Kong; from Jason Hunter of Abilene, Texas; from Andreas Murner of Lake Chiemsee, Bavaria, Germany; from Lieve Meeus of Erps-Kwerps (Kortenberg) Belgium; from Pavol Rapavy of Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia.

TOUCHDOWN! The European Space Agency's Huygens probe landed on Saturn's moon Titan on Jan. 14th and scientists are processing hundreds of photos from the descent. This one is a 360-degree panorama of the Huygens landing site:

The white tendrils, researchers suspect, are ground fog made not of water but ethane or methane vapors. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

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 17 Jan 2005 there were 662 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

Jan.-Feb. 2005 Earth-asteroid encounters


1998 DV9

Jan. 11

30 LD

2004 EW

Feb. 14

23 LD

2004 RF84

Feb. 27

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. See also Snow Crystals.

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 Solar 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; 2003; Jan-Mar., 2004;

Space Audio Streams: (University of Florida) 20 MHz radio emissions from Jupiter: #1, #2, #3, #4; (NASA/Marshall) INSPIRE: #1; (Stan Nelson of Roswell, New Mexico) meteor radar: #1, #2;

Recent International Astronomical Union Circulars


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

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