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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: 594.0 km/s
1.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
X17+ 1950UT Nov04
24-hr: X17+ 1950UT Nov04
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 04 Nov '03
Retreating sunspots 486 and 488 pose a continued threat for strong X-class solar flares. Image credit: SOHO MDI

Sunspot Number: 76
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 03 Nov 2003

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.9 nT
5.2 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT

Coronal Holes:

Earth could encounter a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole as early as Nov. 8th. 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 2003 Nov 03 2220 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 90 % 90 %
CLASS X 75 % 75 %

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 Nov 03 2220 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 25 % 40 %
MINOR 40 % 35 %
SEVERE 35 % 15 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 10 % 30 %
MINOR 50 % 45 %
SEVERE 40 % 20 %

What's Up in Space -- 4 Nov 2003
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MEGA-FLARE: Giant sunspot 486 unleashed yet another powerful solar flare today (Nov. 4th, 1950 UT), and this one could be historic. The blast saturated X-ray detectors onboard GOES satellites at X17.4 for 11 minutes. The last time such a thing happened in 2001 the flare was classified as an X20--the biggest ever. This one might be even bigger; stay tuned for updates.

A SOHO movie of the Nov. 4th mega-flare. [more]

Ionizing radiation from the flare hit Earth's atmosphere soon after the explosion and caused a severe radio blackout, which radio listeners noticed across North America. The explosion also hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space. Although the CME is not heading directly toward Earth, it could deliver a glancing blow to our planet's magnetic field on Nov. 5th.

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INTERMISSION? Giant sunspots 486 and 488 are about to disappear from view, carried over the western limb of the sun by our star's 27-day rotation. This means Earth-directed explosions will stop... for a while. Big sunspots often persist for many weeks. These two might reappear on the eastern side of the sun in two weeks, the time required for them to transit the far side of the sun.

Right: Peter Paice of Belfast, Northern Ireland, took this picture of the two retreating sunspots on Nov. 2nd.

IMPACT: A coronal mass ejection swept past Earth on Nov. 4th at approximately 0630 UT. The impact did little to spark auroras, mainly because the interplanetary magnetic field near Earth is tilting north--a condition that suppresses geomagnetic storms. The CME (movie) was hurled toward Earth by an X8-class explosion from sunspot 486 on Nov. 2nd.

On October 29th, during one of the most intense geomagnetic storms in years, Paul Gardner photographed these auroras over Orlando, Florida: (continued below)

"We're at 28.3 degrees latitude," notes Gardner, the president of the University of Central Florida Astronomical Society. "These are the first auroras I have ever seen or photographed."

Visit our growing gallery of aurora pictures.

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

Near-Earth asteroid Hermes has a knack for slipping past our planet unnoticed, but not this week. Amateur and professional astronomers are closely monitoring the space rock as it flys by Earth today. 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 4 Nov 2003 there were 542 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

November 2003 Earth-asteroid encounters



Nov. 4

18 LD

1990 OS

Nov. 12

9 LD

1996 GT

Nov. 12

19 LD

2003 UX5

Nov. 13

32 LD

1998 UT18

Nov. 28

26 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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