Friday, December 30, 2011

Report for 12/30/11

On December 25-26th, two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) were released from the Sun within 24 hours of each other! This caused geomagnetic storms on December 28th; sky watchers in the higher latitudes were treated to spectacular auroras.

Sunspot AR1389 unleashed two M-class solar flares yesterday and may not be done yet. Two other sunspots, AR1386 and AR1387, also have the potential to cause a solar event; AR1387 was the source of the CME on Dec. 25th. The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center has predicted a 40% chance of M-class flares through tomorrow.

What do you think the chances of a solar event are over the weekend? Submit your forecast here!

Auroras decorated the sky on December 28, 2011.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Report for 12/21/11

As of today, the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center forecasts a very low chance of solar flares in the next few days (see image to the right). They also predict a low chance (15%) of geomagnetic storm activity. Over the past week, the predicted chances of solar storms were similarly low and there have been no reports of any major space weather events.

This doesn't mean that the past week wasn't exciting, however!

Last Thursday, a thrilling event was captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Comet Lovejoy, a large Kreutz comet (also called a "sungrazer" comet), passed by the Sun and, to many people's surprise, it survived! These comets are often burned up by the Sun as they pass by it in their orbital paths; however, Lovejoy could be seen emerging from the other side of the Sun after passing behind it. Many of our fans followed along with us on Twitter and our Comet Lovejoy website to see the event as it unfolded!

Sightings of the comet's tail have recently been reported by many folks living in the Southern Hemisphere. Click here to watch a neat video of the comet's tail filmed in Australia this morning.

Comet Lovejoy heads to the Sun (taken by SOHO).

Friday, December 2, 2011

Report for 12/2/11

Great job, forecasters! There have been no major solar events in the past 24 hours, which 17% of you accurately predicted!

Also impressive is the fact that nearly half of you made the same prediction as scientists at the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center; they forecasted a 20-30% chance of flares (see table above).

Last Saturday (Nov. 26), a solar flare hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) at about 2 million mph into Space, which reached us on Monday. Spectacular auroras were seen in higher latitudes!

The sun is currently quiet, but what will the weekend hold? Submit your forecasts and let us know what you think!
A picture of Saturday's CME taken by SOHO.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Report for 11/23/11

In late October, the Sun was so active that auroras could be seen as far south as Arkansas and Arizona in the US! The Sun has been putting on less of a performance so far this month, although yesterday a prominence erupted which was several times the size of the Earth! Although not Earth-facing, it was a beautiful sight (video).

A picture of yesterday's prominence eruption taken by SDO.

According to the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center, there is a 30% chance of M-class solar flares in the next few days, but otherwise solar activity is expected to be low. Forecasters are keeping their eyes on sunspot 1356 as a potential source of flares.

Sunspot 1356 is currently a potential source of flares.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Most respondents agreed that there would be very little activity on the sun with all responses being less than 50% chance of a solar event and the majority of the responses being 10% chance or less of a solar event over the following 24 hours.

However, what many people did not see, because it was a little early in the day on Thursday, was a tiny sunspot region forming in the southern hemisphere. (shown here, it is the small cluster in the lower left quadrant. You can click on the image for a larger pciture)

From The Sun Today "Solar activity has increased dramatically over the past few hours. There have been four C-class flares in quick succession. These have been due to a new grou
p of sunspots emerging in the Sun's southern hemisphere."
Below is the data from the GOES satellite showing the increase in activity on July 8th.