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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: 477.5 km/s
3.1 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2228 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
A1 2245 UT Feb16
24-hr: A2 1305 UT Feb16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 16 Feb '06

Sunspot 854 (mislabeled yesterday as "855") poses no threat for solar flares. Credit: SOHO/MDI

Sunspot Number: 15
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 15 Feb 2006

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: 3.8 nT
0.3 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2229 UT

Coronal Holes:

Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from this ill-defined coronal hole. 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 2006 Feb 16 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 2006 Feb 16 2203 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 15 % 15 %
MINOR 01 % 01 %
SEVERE 01 % 01 %

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

What's Up in Space -- 16 Feb 2006
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The space station is visible in the night sky this month. Would you like to see it? Sign up for Spaceweather PHONE.

ALIEN LIGHTNING: NASA's Cassini spacecraft is tracking an intense lightning storm on Saturn. The powerful bolts are causing the spacecraft's radio instruments to "crackle"--much like the crackles you hear coming from your car's AM radio when you drive by a thunderstorm on Earth. One difference: Saturn's lightning is about 1000 times stronger than Earth's: full story.

Listen to Saturn's Lightning

SOLAR PROMINENCE: A massive prominence is dancing along the sun's southwestern limb today. Greg Piepol of Rockville, Maryland, snapped this picture of the towering plume on Feb 15th:

Earth added for comparison

If you have a safely-filtered solar telescope, take a look. It's a nice way to celebrate Galileo's birthday.

more images: from John Stetson of Falmouth, Maine; from Robert Arnold, Isle of Skye, Scotland; from Gary Palmer of Los Angeles, California; from Andy Dodson of Huirangi, New Zealand.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GALILEO: On February 15, 1564, Galileo Galilei was born in Pisa, Italy. If he were alive today he would be 442 years old. Galileo is an important person in the history of space weather. Contrary to popular belief, he didn't discover sunspots, but he was one of the first to observe them using a telescope.

In Galileo's day, many people believed sunspots were satellites of the sun. Galileo proved otherwise. By drawing sunspots every day, he discovered that the sun spins and that sunspots are located on (or very near) the sun's surface. Galileo thought sunspots might be clouds.

Sunspots drawn by Galileo in June 1612: more.

Now we know what sunspots really are: great islands of magnetism. Sunspots consist of magnetic force fields poking through the surface of the sun. These fields block the flow of heat from below. Because sunspots are a few thousand degrees cooler than the surrounding inferno, they appear dark. Typical sunspots are a few times wider than Earth. The behemoths Galileo sketched in 1612 were as wide as Jupiter.

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 16 Feb 2006 there were 772 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

January 2006 Earth-asteroid encounters




2005 XO4

Jan. 1

18.5 LD


~150 m
2005 YM128

Jan. 1

19.8 LD


~75 m
2005 YO128

Jan. 3

6.5 LD


~60 m
2006 AB3

Jan. 4

13.5 LD


~15 m
2005 YU8

Jan. 13

19.8 LD


~70 m
2006 AN

Jan. 13

18.5 LD


~50 m
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

Daily images from the sun -- 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.

Lists of Coronal Mass Ejections -- from 1998 to 2001

Mirages: Mirages in Finland; An Introduction to Mirages;

NOAA Solar Flare and Sunspot Data: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999; 2000; 2001; 2002; 2003; 2004; 2005; Jan-Mar 2006;

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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