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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: 282.7 km/s
0.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2232 UT

Note: Solar wind detectors onboard NASA's ACE spacecraft are currently saturated by the ongoing radiation storm. That is the (ironic) reason why solar wind values listed above are so low. Click here for better numbers from SOHO.

X-ray Solar Flares

6-hr max:
M1 1525 UT Oct30
24-hr: X10 2049 UT Oct30
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1955 UT

Daily Sun: 30 Oct '03
Sunspots 486 and 488 pose a continued threat for strong X-class solar flares. Image credit: SOHO MDI

Sunspot Number: 330
What is the sunspot number?
Updated: 29 Oct 2003

Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 31.9 nT
21.1 nT south
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2247 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 Oct 30 2200 UTC
FLARE 0-24 hr 24-48 hr
CLASS M 90 % 90 %
CLASS X 50 % 50 %

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 Oct 30 2200 UTC
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 10 % 40 %
MINOR 20 % 15 %
SEVERE 70 % 10 %

High latitudes
0-24 hr 24-48 hr
ACTIVE 10 % 50 %
MINOR 10 % 30 %
SEVERE 80 % 10 %

What's Up in Space -- 30 Oct 2003
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Would you like a phone call when auroras appear over your home town? Sign up for Spaceweather PHONE.

STORM IN PROGRESS: A severe geomagnetic storm is in progress on Oct. 30th. It began at approximately 1700 UT when a coronal mass ejection (CME) swept past Earth. The CME (movie) was hurled toward our planet yesterday by an X10-class explosion from giant sunspot 486. Sky watchers at all latitudes should be alert for auroras.

BRIGHT AURORAS: Oct. 29th was a great day for sky watchers. A CME hit Earth's magnetic field and triggered an extreme geomagnetic storm. In the United States, Northern Lights appeared as far south as Florida, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.

Above: Photographer Jim Reed snapped this picture of Northern Lights over Lancaster County, South Carolina, shortly after sundown on Oct. 29th. [gallery]

SUNSPOT 486: The source of all this solar activity is giant sunspot 486. This week it has unleashed two of the most powerful solar flares ever recorded and hurled massive CMEs toward Earth. More such eruptions are possible in the days ahead.

Sunspot 486 is so big it's easy to see from Earth. But never look directly at the sun. Alway use safe solar observing techniques.

Right: Amateur astronomer Don Parker of Coral Gables, Florida, best known for his remarkable photos of Mars, took this picture of sunspot 486 on Oct. 29th. The blue dot at the bottom is the size of the planet Earth.

RADIATION STORM: Fast-moving protons, accelerated by the recent explosions on the sun, are streaming past Earth. This is what scientists call a proton storm. The ongoing storm rates an S3 on NOAA's space weather scale. Passengers and crew in commercial jets at high latitudes may receive low-level radiation exposure (approximately 1 chest x-ray). Click here to learn more about how proton storms affect Earth.

A message from editor Tony Phillips: "The hard drive on my computer crashed this morning--an event unrelated to the ongoing solar activity. Many files were lost. Any readers who have sent me pictures in recent days--of auroras, sunspots (including paintings and drawings), the moon, California wildfires, etc.--please re-send them. Thanks!"

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 Oct 2003 there were 542 known Potentially
Hazardous Asteroids

October 2003 Earth-asteroid encounters


2003 SS84

Oct. 11

8 LD

1998 FG2

Oct. 21

15 LD

2003 TL4

Oct. 26

12 LD

2001 KZ66

Oct. 30

31 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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