Sunspot 486 - An Electrically Charged Sun-Earth Event
image of solar flare
Third Most-Powerful Solar Flare Ever Observed Erupted on October 28, 2003
The third most-powerful solar flare ever observed in X-ray wavelengths erupted from Sunspot 486 early October 28, 2003, at approximately 6 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. A coronal mass ejection (CME) directed almost straight at Earth preceded the flare, sending electrically charged gas toward our planet, say NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) scientists.

The following resources provide information about coronal mass ejections, how they affect life on Earth, and ideas for classroom activities about the Sun-Earth Connection.


closeup view of sunspot region 486

3rd Largest Solar Flare Ever Seen

The October 28, 2003 solar flare marked the third most powerful explosion since space-based observations in the 1970s.
+ Read more

image captured of solar flare erupting from sun

Solar Superstorm, October 2003

Newly uncovered scientific data of recorded history's most massive space storm is helping a NASA scientist investigate its intensity and the probability that what occurred on Earth and in the heavens almost a century-and-a-half ago could happen again.
+ Read more

Cool Sites & Hot Activities

Vote on SOHO Images

Eight Years of Spectacular Solar Gazing - The SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft team is celebrating the 8th anniversary of its launch this December.You have a chance to help pick the top 10 SOHO images. Voting will end November 17.
+ View site

logo for Solar System Simulator

Solar System Simulator - Create simulated images of any body from any point in space at any time in full-color graphics. Be sure to read the Simulator FAQ for tips and tricks.
+ View site

logo for Solar System Exploration Outreach Forum

Explore a Planet! - This Web site has lots of interesting facts about the Sun and Earth. Find out what it would be like on the Sun and even stop in to get weighed! Learn more about missions studying the Sun and then take the challenge.
+ View site

graphic for Sunbeam Surfing learning activity
Sunbeam Surfing - Create unique on-line X-ray movies, view real-time images of our Sun, peruse electronic flip-books filled with exciting solar facts, or utilize investigative learning activities in the solar classroom.
+ View site
Ask the Space Scientist logo
Ask the Space Scientist - Do you have a question about: The Earth's magnetic field? The Northern Lights? The Solar Wind? The Sun-Earth Connection? or just about anything else? Just send it to Ask the Space Scientist.
+ View site
image of Sun-Earth magnetosphere
Hot Pics, Cool Movies - These breathtaking images include auroras, sun spots, Earth from space, and gusts from the Sun. You will also see features of geospace in motion -- watch as tornadoes spin, eclipses pass, explosions burst, the sun rotates, and the aurora twinkles.
+ View site

On-line Educational Activities

image of Earth and Sun with solar flare
IMAGE POETRY Classroom Activities (K-12) - Students investigate solar storms and their impact on satellites, the anatomy of a coronal mass ejection, and magnetic storms and Aurora.
+ View activity
computer generated image of Earth and Sun
NASAexplores: Stay out of the Sun (K-12) - The sun is known to give off some powerful ejections and flares. Solar flares can bring a lot of disruption to our lives. Students will read over how solar flares affect us on Earth as well as our astronauts living in space. Students will be able to see if they can use the power of the sun to make S'mores, and will use cans and shoe boxes to determine how materials react to solar energy.
+ View activity

computer with animated speakers and keyboard
Interact with NASA!
Videos / Webcasts / Interactive

PASSPORT TO KNOWLEDGE invites teachers and students to understand how and why Sun-Earth Connections like those seen in the aurora can impact life on our planet by disrupting satellite communications, generating power surges and blackouts, endangering human space flight and even air travel, and ultimately affecting global climate.

Blackout! illustrates with 3D animation, the phenomenal eruptions of our Sun and their effects upon the Earth.

Living in the Atmosphere of the Sun Exhibit provides an overview of the basic elements of space weather. Contains animations which show many of the Sun-Earth Connection spacecraft in their orbits as they constantly monitor the Sun and its effects on Earth.

NASA Educational Products

Image of Sun-Earth educational product covers
NASA Educational Products are available online
Living with a Star (K-12)
This educator guide is designed to provide educators with a quick reference to materials and resources that are useful for understanding the connections between the Sun and Earth.
+ View guide

Sun Lithograph (K-12)
NASA satellites provided these images of the Sun's activities. They include solar storms, sunspots, majestic hot coronal loops and solar wind.
+ View lithograph

Earth Lithograph (K-12)
The images of Earth on this lithograph include a shot of the Pacific Ocean with the Americas, a snapshot of Earth's biosphere, a temperature map, a false-color radar image of central Africa, and an ozone hole over the South Pole.
+ View lithograph

Live from the Aurora (K-12)
This educator guide includes activities designed to challenge students into further investigating the dynamic nature of the Sun and its connection to the Earth.
+ View guide

NASA Educational Multimedia Materials

Picture of CD, tape, slides and guides
NASA develops Multimedia Resources for Educators
Visit the Central Operation of Resources for Educators (CORE) which serves as the worldwide distribution center for NASA-produced multimedia materials. CORE offers "Education Modules" which are bundled by topic and may include CD-ROMs, videotapes, educator guides, posters, lithographs, books, lesson plans, bookmarks, fact sheets, slide sets, and activity kits.

CORE has a Space Science - Sun Module available. For additional materials related to Sun-Earth click on "Search Catalog" and enter the keyword Sun-Earth.

Additional Resources

NASA Space Science Enterprise

NASA's Sun Earth Connection

Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) Images and Movies

SOHO FAQ: Solar Flares

Solar Flare Theory

How on Earth Do Solar Storms Affect Us?

Auroras! Mysterious Lights in the Sky

Living in the Atmosphere of the Sun

Join the NASA Education EXPRESS mailing list to receive announcements of new NASA educational publications, Central Operation of Resources for Educators (CORE) multimedia materials and other opportunities for educators.