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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: 391.3 km/s
0.5 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
A1 2245 UT May15
24-hr: A2 1355 UT May15
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT

Daily Sun: 15 May '06

Sunspot 880 has dissolved, leaving the sun blank and quiet. Credit: SOHO/MDI.

Sunspot Number: 11
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 14 May 2006

Far Side of the Sun

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

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 2.4 nT
1.5 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2246 UT

Coronal Holes:

A solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole could hit Earth on May 16th or 17th. 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 2006 May 15 2204 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 01 % 01 %
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 2006 May 15 2204 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 15 % 20 %
MINOR 05 % 10 %
SEVERE 01 % 01 %

What's Up in Space -- 15 May 2006
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Planets. Comets. Auroras. Don't miss them! Sign up for Spaceweather PHONE.

AURORA WATCH: A solar wind stream flowing from a coronal hole on the sun will hit Earth's magnetic field on May 16th or 17th. This could cause a geomagnetic storm and auroras over Alaska and Canada.

LUNAR LIBRATION: Did you see this weekend's full Moon? It was unique. Why? Because no two full Moons are exactly alike. To prove it, Laurent Laveder of Quimper, Bretagne, France photographed the last 12 full Moons and stitched the pictures together to make this movie:

The Moon swells and shrinks, it rocks back and forth and up and down. This is a result of the Moon's motion around its tilted, elliptical orbit. Each full Moon occurs at a different point in that orbit, and so we see it from a slightly different distance and angle. The rocking motions are called libration; because of them we can see 59% of the Moon's surface rather than the 50% you might have learned in school. So pay attention to the next full Moon (June 11th). It's as unique as you are.

COMET TAILS: "It's not real pretty--but it is real!" says Mike Holloway of Van Buren, Arkansas. On May 11th he took this picture of comet fragment 73P-B, overexposed to show the mini-comet's delicate tails:

Fragment B is flying by Earth today only 6 million miles away. This makes it an easy target for backyard telescopes such as the 4-inch refractor Holloway used. Look for the mini-comet around 4 o'clock in the morning in the constellation Pegasus: sky map.

more images: from Paolo Candy in the Cimini Mountains of Italy; from Paolo Corelli of the Mandi Observatory in Pagnacco, Italy; from Peter Rosén of Stockholm, Sweden;

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 15 May 2006 there were 785 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

May 2006 Earth-asteroid encounters




2006 HU50

May 4

3.8 LD


~50 m
2006 HX57

May 6

3.0 LD


~45 m
2006 JY26

May 10

1.1 LD


~8 m
Comet 73P-C

May 12

31 LD


~1 km
2006 GY2

May 16

6.7 LD


~0.8 km
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 Solar 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

Daily images from the sun -- 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.

Lists of Coronal Mass Ejections -- from 1998 to 2001

Mirages: Mirages in Finland; An Introduction to Mirages;

NOAA Solar Flare and Sunspot Data: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999; 2000; 2001; 2002; 2003; 2004; 2005; Jan-Mar 2006;

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


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

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