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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: 470.6 km/s
2.6 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
X1 1815 UT Oct26
24-hr: X1 0650 UT Oct26
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 26 Oct '03
Sunspots 484 and 486 pose a threat for strong X-class solar flares. Image credit: SOHO MDI

The Far Side of the Sun

This holographic image reveals perhaps one substantial sunspot on the far side of the Sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI

Sunspot Number: 139
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 25 Oct 2003

Coronal Holes:

Earth could encounter a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole as soon as Oct. 28th. Image credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
More about coronal holes

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 12.3 nT
1.7 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 UT


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 Oct 26 2200 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 90 % 90 %
CLASS X 50 % 50 %

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 Oct 26 2200 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 30 % 35 %
MINOR 20 % 30 %
SEVERE 05 % 10 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 40 % 35 %
MINOR 25 % 35 %
SEVERE 10 % 15 %

What's Up in Space -- 26 Oct 2003
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SOLAR ACTIVTY: Solar activity remains high. An X-class solar flare erupted near sunspot 486 at 0650 UT on Oct. 26th. Another X-class flare erupted near sunspot 484 twelve hours later at 1850 UT. At least one of these eruptions, and possibly both, has hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) toward Earth. Sky watchers should be alert for auroras on Oct. 28th, when these CMEs are likely to sweep past Earth and trigger geomagnetic storms.

Above: SOHO's extreme UV telescope photographed this lovely prominence rising above the sun's soutwestern limb on Oct. 26th at 0119 UT. The giant loop is as tall as 30 planet Earths.

GIANT SUNSPOTS: Astronomers can't remember the last time this happened: two Jupiter-sized sunspots crossing the face of the sun at the same time. Sunspots 484 and 486 have tangled magnetic fields that pose a threat for powerful X-class solar flares--like the one this morning. The pair are easy to see, but never look directly at the sun. Use safe solar observing methods instead.

ARIZONA AURORAS: Many people think you can only see auroras from far-north places like Alaska and Canada. Not so. Photographer Chris Schur catches them surprisingly often from Arizona.

Pictured right, for example, are some deep red auroras Chris photographed on Oct. 21st. Click here to learn how he does it. Such auroras are possible in the days ahead if the recent spate of high solar activity continues.

Would you like a phone call when auroras appear over your home town? Sign up for Spaceweather PHONE.

ZODIACAL LIGHTS: The moon is new, the morning sky is dark, and so this weekend is a good time to look for Zodiacal Lights. Also known as the "false dawn" because they resemble a hint of sunrise, Zodiacal Lights appear an hour or so before true dawn--a pale luminous triangle jutting upward from the eastern horizon.

Canadian Dominic Cantin took this recent picture of Zodiacal Lights side by side with auroras. The two kinds of lights are unrelated. Auroras are caused by geomagnetic storms. Zodiacal Lights are caused by sunlight-reflecting dust particles adrift among the planets.

Early-morning Zodiacal Lights are most easily seen in Sept. and Oct. because those are months when the dusty plane of our solar system pokes over the horizon almost vertically. Rural areas with clear skies offer the best view.

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 26 Oct 2003 there were 540 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

October 2003 Earth-asteroid encounters


2003 SS84

Oct. 11

8 LD

1998 FG2

Oct. 21

15 LD

2003 TL4

Oct. 26

12 LD

2001 KZ66

Oct. 30

31 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: Space weather and other forecasts that appear on this site are formulated by Dr. Tony Phillips. They are not official statements of any government agency (including NASA) nor should they be construed as guarantees of space weather or other celestial activity.

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Dr. Tony Phillips
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