Published on Jan 4, 2014
Giant Sunspot 1944 is turning earth facing. Draconid meteor shower.
Solar,Quake and Weather Links, http://www.bpearthwatch.com
Sunspot AR1944, which appeared on January 1st, is one of the largest sunspots of the current solar cycle. It’s so big, people are noticing it as a naked-eye blemish on the solar disk. Daisuke Tomiyasu sends this picture from Higashinada-ku, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan:
“Sunspot 1944 was visible at sunrise on January 4th,” says Tomiyasu. “I combined three exposures of 1/15sec, 1/100sec, and 1/640sec to create this HDR (high dynamic range) image.”
Aside: Look carefully at the full-sized picture. There is a red fringe on the bottom of the sun and a green fringe on top. That’s real. The colorful fringes are caused by refraction in Earth’s atmosphere. The effect is explained here.
Although the sunspot has been relatively quiet and stable since it first appeared on New Year’s Day, a region of this size has the potential to produce significant activity. Indeed, NOAA forecasters, who say they are keeping a close eye on this behemoth, estimate a 75% chance of M-flares and a 30% chance of X-flares on Jan. 4th.
For the second day in a row, a solar wind stream is buffeting Earth’s magnetic field, sparking intermittant geomagnetic storms and auroras around the Arctic Circle. Last night, Northern Lights tour guide Chad Blakley photographed a luminous green vortex over Sweden’s Abisko National Park:
“Tonight was one of those nights that makes being an aurora photographer the best job in the world,” says Blakley. “The lights started around 5:00 PM and continued well into the night. I had the pleasure of spending the evening with Peter Richards, a representative of National Geographic student photography expeditions. At one point during our night under the stars I heard him say that the display was the most amazing thing he had ever seen in his life – I couldn’t agree more!”
NOAA forecasters estimate a 20% chance of more polar geomagnetic storms on Jan. 4th as the solar wind continues to blow.