Active Sun Yields Spots and Aurora

Quick, pursue the sunspot option cited in The Second Question After An Eclipse. This past week a bundle of sunspots have been growing and active. Try to spot them naked eye while wearing your eclipse glasses, though they are near the size limit of what the eye can see. Or pull out some of the solar filtered optics you may have used for the 2017 solar eclipse. The sunspots will soon rotate out of view, from left to right, so you've only got a few days left for this group.

On Wednesday, Sept. 6 the sun belched big time. Spaceweather.com writes,

On Sept. 6th at 1202 UT, sunspot AR2673 unleashed a major X9.3-class solar flare--the strongest solar flare in more than a decade. X-rays and UV radiation from the blast ionized the top of Earth's atmosphere, causing a strong shortwave radio blackout over Europe, Africa and the Atlantic Ocean.

One consequence of the sun's belching can be aurorae. NASA has a cool cluster of satellites--the MMS mission--that is tracking the disconnect of the protective belts surrounding earth. Snapping back they yield what is dubbed the northern lights in North America.

Predictions for aurora activity are listed on the left column at Spaceweather.com. Notice the green auroral loop dipping into the Great Lakes, for perspective.

This while the sun is on the low end of its 11-year cycle of activity. Unfortunately, the moon is big and bright and clouds are in the way locally, but look up when you get a chance.

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