4 July 2012
CHANCE OF X-FLARES: The chance of an X-flare today is increasing as sunspot AR1515 develops a ‘beta-gamma-delta’ magnetic field that harbors energy for the most powerful explosions.
The sunspot itself is huge, stretching more than 100,000 km (8 Earth-diameters) from end to end. The behemoth has been growing and turning toward Earth over the past five days.
If any X-flares do occur today, they will certainly be Earth-directed. The sunspot is directly facing our planet. Radio blackouts, sudden ionospheric disturbances, and geomagnetic storms could be in the offing.
The Watchers online
4 June 2012
New sunspot 1496 unleashed an impulsive M3-Class solar flare on June 3rd at 17:55 UTC. The explosion hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space. The cloud does not appear to be heading for Earth, although this conclusion could be revised by further analysis. A powerful solar tsunami was produced at the blast site as well. Fortunately, amateur astronomer Thomas Ashcraft was monitoring the Sun from New Mexico when the flare occurred and he video-recorded the event.
Solar tsunamis pose no direct threat to Earth. They were discovered back in 1997 by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). In May of that year, a CME came blasting up from an active region on the sun’s surface, and SOHO recorded a tsunami rippling away from the blast site.
Meanwhile, a big dark hole in the sun’s atmosphere, a ‘coronal hole’, is turning toward Earth spewing solar wind. Last night we experienced minor geomagnetic storming. Coronal holes are places where the sun’s magnetic field opens up and allows the solar wind to escape.
The stream of solar wind flowing from this coronal hole will reach Earth on June 5th – 7th, possibly stirring geomagnetic storms again. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.
Coronal hole emitting solar wind
Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole hit Earth’s magnetic field during the late hours of May 8, 2012 stirring geomagnetic activity and auroras over parts of Europe. The pair of CMEs en route to Earth (see below) could add to the effect of the solar wind stream, igniting even brighter auroras during the next 24-48 hours. NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of geomagnetic storms on May 9th.
TWO INCOMING CMEs: A pair of solar eruptions on May 7th hurled coronal mass ejections (CMEs) toward Earth. Forecast tracks prepared by analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab suggests that clouds will arrive in succession on May 9th at 13:40 UT and May 10th at 07:54 UT (+/- 7 hours). The double impact could spark moderate geomagnetic storms. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.
SUNSPOT SUNSET: Sunspot AR1476 is so large, people are noticing it without the aide of a solar telescope. The behemoth appears at sunrise and sunset when the light of the low-hanging sun is occasionally dimmed to human visibility.
Two M-Class Flares / Sunspot 1476
Solar activity increased to moderate levels thanks to newly numbered Sunspot 1476 (see image above). This new region rotated into view off the northeast limb and has so far produced a pair of M-Class flares. The latest event was an M1.3 at 23:01 UTC Saturday evening (May 8, 2012). Solar activity is again increasing.