Science news and information about the Sun-Earth environment.


Solar Wind

speed: 558.2 km/s
0.4 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 0756 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
B9 0255 UT Feb16
24-hr: B9 0255 UT Feb16
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 0745 UT

Daily Sun : 15 Feb '04
None of the spots on the Sun today pose a threat for strong solar flares. Image credit: SOHO/MDI

The Far Side of the Sun

This holographic image reveals no big sunspots on the far side of the Sun. Image credit: SOHO/MDI

Sunspot Number : 75
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 15 Feb 2004

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.4 nT
0.7 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 0757 UT

Coronal Holes :

Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated 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 2004 Feb 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 2004 Feb 15 2200 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 35 % 30 %
MINOR 20 % 15 %
SEVERE 05 % 01 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 40 % 35 %
MINOR 25 % 20 %
SEVERE 10 % 05 %

What's Up in Space -- 16 Feb 2004
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AURORA OUTLOOK: Earth is inside a solar wind stream that caused some auroras on Feb. 11th and 12th--mostly over Alaska and Canada. More auroras are possible tonight, but Earth is exiting the stream, so the chances for a display are subsiding. [gallery]

COMET WATCH: Comet C/2002 T7 (LINEAR) is approaching Earth and brightening every day. It's not yet a naked-eye objec, but the 7th-magnitude fuzzball is easy to see through backyard telescopes. The comet lies not far from brilliant Venus in the western sky after sunset. [sky map]

Right: Comet C/2002 T7on Feb. 14th, photographed by Rolando Ligustri of Italy using a 4.5" telescope. Exposure time: 8 min.

For the next three months, the comet will continue to brighten as it nears Earth. Closest approach is expected on May 19th (0.27 AU). At that time C/2002 T7 might glow brighter than a 1st magnitude star--easily seen with the unaided eye. But in May you'll have to be in the southern hemisphere to see it. Now is the best time for northern hemisphere observers to look, before the comet plunges south. [ephemeris]

Comet pictures: from Jack Newton of Arizona on Feb 13th; from Tone Spenko of the Rezman Observatory in Kamnik, Slovenia, on Feb. 14th; from Ted Collins of Reno, Nevada, on Feb 12th;

SOLAR ACTIVITY: There are few sunspots on our star today, but that doesn't mean there's no solar activity. On Feb. 14th, Ginger Mayfield of Divide, Colorado, photographed two magnetic filaments of glowing-hot gas rising above the sun's eastern limb: (continued below)

When filaments rise over the sun's limb they're called prominences, and these are big. Either one could hold dozens of planet Earths with room to spare. Sometimes, unpredictably, prominences collapse and explode. Such events are called Hyder flares, and one is possible in the days ahead.

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 Feb 2004 there were 577 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

February-March 2004 Earth-asteroid encounters



2003 YK118

Feb. 9

33 LD

2004 AS1

Feb. 16

33 LD

2003 YM137

Mar. 1

37 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. 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 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; 2003; Jan-Mar., 2004;

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


Editor's Note : This site is sponsored by Science@NASA. Space weather and other forecasts that appear here are formulated by Dr. Tony Phillips. They are not guarantees of space weather or other celestial activity.

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