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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: 473.1 km/s
0.9 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max:
B1 2230 UT May01
24-hr: B1 2230 UT May01
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 01 May '07

The magnetic field of sunspot 953 harbors energy for X-class solar flares--but so far no explosions have occured. Credit: SOHO/MDI

Sunspot Number: 38
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 30 May 2007

Far Side of the Sun

This holographic image reveals one sunspot on the farside of the sun, mage credit: SOHO/MDI

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.0 nT
0.4 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT

Coronal Holes:

A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole should reach Earth on May 6th or 7th. 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 2007 May 01 2203 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 2007 May 01 2203 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 15 % 15 %
MINOR 05 % 05 %
SEVERE 01 % 01 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 20 % 15 %
MINOR 10 % 05 %
SEVERE 01 % 01 %

What's Up in Space -- 1 May 2007
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What's the name of that star? Where's Saturn? Get the answers from mySKY--a fun new astronomy helper from Meade.

VANISHING PLANET: On May 2nd, Mercury will pass directly behind the sun and vanish for about 8 hours. A coronagraph onboard the SOHO spacecraft is recording the encounter: Click here to watch.

ELLERMAN BOMBS: If you have a solar telescope, please look at sunspot 953. It is seething with activity. This image from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, UK, caught several "Ellerman Bombs" going off:

Sunspot 953: The view through a Coronado Personal Solar Telescope.

The bombs are the bright white specks scattered around the sunspot; they are explosions about one-millionth as powerful as a true solar flare. Ellerman bombs are named after Ferdinand Ellerman who studied the tiny blasts in the early 20th century. Of course, "tiny" is relative. A single Ellerman bomb releases about 1026 ergs of energy--equal to ten million atomic bombs.

A real solar flare may be in the offing. Sunspot 953 has a "beta-gamma-delta" magnetic field that harbors energy for X-flares; NOAA forecasters estimate a 5% chance of such an explosion during the next 24 hours.

more images: from Emiel Veldhuis of Zwolle, the Netherlands; from Patrick Bornet of Saint Martin sur Nohain, Nièvre France; from Franck Charlier of Marines, Val d'Oise, France; from Michael Borman of Evansville, Indiana.

MOON HALOS: There's a full Moon this week (May 2nd at 10:09 UT to be precise), and that means it's time to watch out for Moon halos. Tim Thorpe photographed this one from Copeville, South Australia:

Photo details: Nikon D70, 10mm focal length, ISO 200, 10 seconds

"A thin veil of cirrus and the nearly-full Moon got together to create one of the best 'rings around the Moon' I have ever seen," says Thorpe.

The ring was formed by ice crystals in the clouds. Pencil-shaped crystals catch rays of moonlight and bend them into a rainbow-colored circle as shown. When you see a moon halo, be alert for moondogs, moon pillars and other exotic arcs, too. They're all made by ice in the sky.

Note: Winter weather is not required for these halos. Even if it is hot on the ground, clouds floating miles overhead can be freezing cold. Ice halos are, therefore, a year-round phenomenon.

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 is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.

On 1 May 2007 there were 859 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

April 2007 Earth-asteroid encounters




2006 VV2

Mar. 31

8.8 LD


2 km
2007 FY20

Apr. 2

5.3 LD


50 m
2007 DS84

Apr. 14

16 LD


325 m
2007 GU1

Apr. 16

2.1 LD


45 m
2007 HA

Apr. 17

6.5 LD


300 m
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 -- from the National Solar Data Analysis Center

Recent Solar Events -- a summary of current solar conditions from

What is the Magnetosphere?

The Lion Roars -- visit this site to find out what the magnetosphere sounds like.

List of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

Observable Comets -- from the Harvard Minor Planet Center.

Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from NASA's ACE spacecraft.

How powerful are solar wind gusts? Not very! Read this story from Science@NASA.

More Real-time Solar Wind Data -- from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Proton Monitor.

Lists of Coronal Mass Ejections -- from 1996 to 2006

Mirages: Mirages in Finland; An Introduction to Mirages;

NOAA Solar Flare and Sunspot Data: 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999; 2000; 2001; 2002; 2003; 2004; 2005; Jan-Mar 2006; Apr-Jun 2006; Jul-Sep 2006; Oct-Dec 2006.

This site is penned daily by Dr. Tony Phillips: email

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