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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: 674.5 km/s
5.0 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2256 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
C5 2000 UT Oct20
24-hr: M1 0720 UT Oct20
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 20 Oct '03
Sunspot 484 is growing rapidly and poses a threat for X-class solar flares. Image credit: SOHO MDI

The Far Side of the Sun

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

Sunspot Number: 89
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 19 Oct 2003

Coronal Holes:

Solar wind gusts from the indicated coronal hole could reach Earth late on Oct. 20th. Image credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope
More about coronal holes

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 7.6 nT
1.8 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2257 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 20 2200 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 70 % 70 %
CLASS X 15 % 15 %

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

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 25 % 30 %
MINOR 25 % 20 %
SEVERE 15 % 10 %

What's Up in Space -- 20 Oct 2003
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METEOR SHOWER: Sky watchers who wake up before dawn on Tuesday, Oct. 21st, can see a mild but pleasant meteor shower: the annual Orionids, which come from Halley's comet. The show will be improved this year by an eye-catching close encounter between the moon and Jupiter in the eastern sky. Get the full story from Science@NASA.

SOLAR EXPLOSION: Magnetic fields around sunspot 484 erupted on Oct. 19th at 1650 UT, sparking an X-class solar flare. The explosion hurled a coronal mass ejection (pictured right) into space, but not directly toward Earth. There is a slim chance that the expanding cloud will deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on Oct. 21st and trigger a geomagnetic storm.

The source of the blast was fast-growing sunspot 484. Barely visible only two days ago, this active region is now 7 times wider than Earth. It's easy to see, but never look directly at the sun. Always practice safe solar observing.

Above: A 48-hour movie of sunspot 484. Credit: SOHO.

Would you like a phone call when things explode on the sun? Sign up for Spaceweather PHONE.

AURORA OULOOK: Earth is entering a solar wind stream flowing from a large coronal hole on the sun. Gusts could trigger auroras tonight, especially at high latitudes--e.g., Alaska, Canada and US northern border states from Maine to Washington. Auroras might descend to middle latitudes if the coronal mass ejection of Oct. 19th reaches Earth (most likely on Oct. 21st) and intensifies ongoing geomagnetic storms.

Above: Tom Eklund of Valkeakoski, Finland, took this picture of the bright moon shining through green auroras on Oct. 14th. [gallery]

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

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 20 Oct 2003 there were 539 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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