Science news and information about the Sun-Earth environment.


Solar Wind

speed: 516.7 km/s
2.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2305 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
B4 2255 UT Jan30
24-hr: B5 1205 UT Jan30
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2305 UT

Daily Sun: 30 Jan '03
None of the sunspots on the Sun today pose a threat for powerful solar flares. Image credit: SOHO/MDI

The Far Side of the Sun

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

Sunspot Number: 173
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 29 Jan 2003

Coronal Holes:

Solar wind gusts from the indicated coronal hole could buffet Earth's magnetosphere as early as Jan. 30th. Image credit: SOHO Extreme UV Telescope.
More about coronal holes

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 7.4 nT
1.2 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2306 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 Jan 30 2230 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 10 % 10 %
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 Jan 30 2230 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 30 % 20 %
MINOR 10 % 10 %
SEVERE 05 % 05 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 40 % 30 %
MINOR 15 % 10 %
SEVERE 05 % 05 %

What's Up in Space -- 30 Jan 2003
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STS-107 SIGHTINGS: The space shuttle Columbia (STS-107) will make a lovely series of morning passes over the United States this week. Read the full story from Science@NASA.

HOT COMET: Comet C/2002 X5 (Kudo-Fujikawa) is perilously close to the Sun--only 0.19 AU away. (For comparison, the planet Mercury is 0.38 AU from the Sun.) Intense sunlight is hiding the encounter from sky watchers on Earth, but not from the orbiting Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). Coronagraphs onboard SOHO are able to block the Sun's glare and reveal the nearby comet. How bright will the comet become? How big will its tail grow? Will the comet break apart? Click here and see for yourself. Above: Comet Kudo-Fujikawa plunges toward the Sun, Jan. 25th - 29th. Courtesy SOHO and science writer Frank Reddy.

ANOTHER COMET: Comet C/2002 V1 is heading for the Sun, too. At closest approach on Feb. 18th its distance from our star will be only 0.1 AU--even closer than Comet Kudo-Fujikawa. SOHO coronagraphs will record the encounter between Feb. 16th and 20th. Stay tuned!

Above: Italian astronomers Rolando Ligustri and Lucio Furlanetto (CAST Observatory) took this picture of C/2002 V1 on Jan. 29th. Using binoculars, you can see it yourself in the western evening sky. The comet is glowing like a 5th magnitude star in the constellation Pisces,


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 30 Jan 2003 there were 488 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

Jan. 2003 Earth-asteroid encounters



2002 AA29

 Jan. 9

15 LD

2003 BH

 Jan. 10

25 LD

2002 CQ11

 Jan. 11

18 LD

2003 AA3

 Jan. 11

29 LD

2003 AC23

 Jan. 23

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.

  • LEONIDS 2002: The Leonids have come and gone, but our meteor gallery keeps growing. Check out the latest additions, which include a stunning image of 44 meteors emerging from the radiant in Leo.
  • DAWN PLANETS: Just before dawn on Sunday, Dec. 1st, the planets Venus and Mars converged and formed a lovely triangle with the slender crescent Moon. [gallery]
  • SUMMER AURORAS: August was a good month for auroras. Visit our gallery and see what happened in the skies of Europe and North America.
  • NEARBY ASTEROID: Asteroid 2002 NY40 came so close to Earth on August 18th that people could see it through binoculars or small telescopes. [gallery]
  • PERSEIDS 2002: Sky watchers spotted plenty of bright shooting stars--including some colorful earthgrazers--during the 2002 Perseid meteor shower. [gallery]
  • AURORA SURPRISE: An unexpected geomagnetic storm began on August 1st as night fell across North America. Sky watchers spotted vivid auroras over both the United States and Canada.
  • CRESCENT SUN: See strange shadows, weird sunsets, eclipse dogs, crescent-eyed turkeys and extraordinary rings of fire photographed during the June 10th solar eclipse. [ gallery]
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.

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.

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.

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?

Vandenberg AFB missile launch schedule.

What is an Astronomical Unit, or AU?

NOAA Solar Flare and Sunspot Data: 1999; 2000; 2001; Jan-Mar., 2002; Apr-Jun., 2002; Jul-Sep., 2002; Oct-Dec., 2002;

Recent International Astronomical Union Circulars






Editor's Note: Space weather forecasts that appear on this site are based in part on data from NASA and NOAA satellites and ground-monitoring stations. Predictions and explanations are formulated by Dr. Tony Phillips; they are not official statements of any government organ or guarantees of space weather activity.

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