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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: 626.8 km/s
3.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 0705 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
B6 0255 UT Oct16
24-hr: B6 0255 UT Oct16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 0705 UT

Daily Sun: 16 Oct '03
Solar flares are unlikely to erupt from any of the small sunspots on the sun today. Image credit: SOHO MDI

The Far Side of the Sun

This holographic image reveals one or two sunspots on the far side of the Sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI

Sunspot Number: 29
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 15 Oct 2003

Coronal Holes:

Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Image credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
More about coronal holes

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.4 nT
3.5 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 0706 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 15 2200 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 05 % 05 %
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 2003 Oct 15 2200 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 40 % 35 %
MINOR 20 % 15 %
SEVERE 10 % 10 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 45 % 45 %
MINOR 25 % 25 %
SEVERE 15 % 15 %

What's Up in Space -- 16 Oct 2003
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WATCHING HISTORY: China's first manned spacecraft, the Shenzhou V, soared over the United States three times on Oct. 15th. Many people saw it just before dawn, gliding across the sky about as bright as a 2nd magnitude star. This picture of the streaking capsule comes from Dirk Obudzinski of Santa Cruz, California. The bright star above the tree is Polaris.

more images: from Ian Griffin of Aberdeen, Maryland; from David Batchelor of Las Vegas, Nevada; from Lymex Zhang of Dalian, China;

AURORA WATCH: Earth is inside a high-speed solar wind stream that could spark geomagnetic activity tonight. High latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. ("High latitude" means, e.g., New Zealand, southern Australia, Alaska, Canada, and US northern border states from Maine to Washington.)

Above: John Russell photographed these auroras 13 miles west of Nome, Alaska, on Oct. 14th. [gallery]

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

BRIGHT JUPITER: For months, Mars has been the brightest planet in the night sky. Not anymore. While Mars has been receding from Earth, Jupiter has been approaching, and as of Oct. 13th Jupiter is the brighter. Look east at 6 o'clock in the morning and you'll see giant Jupiter almost halfway up the sky shining like a -1.8th magnitude star. Even a small telescope will reveal the planet's cloud belts and its four largest moons. [sky map]

EARTH'S SHADOW: You might not have noticed, but early in the morning when the sun rises in the east, Earth's shadow sets in the west. Alfredo Garcia, Jr., of Tucson, Arizona, captured this picture of Earth's setting shadow on Oct. 8th. Says Garcia: "I was driving to work, heading west when I noticed a real nice twilight edge," as the shadow-boundary is sometimes called. "So I took out my Sprint PCS Picture Phone and snapped a picture as I was driving along." The pink band just above the shadow is called the Belt of Venus. It is air tinged pink by reddened sunlight from the rising sun.

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 16 Oct 2003 there were 536 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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