Thursday, December 07, 2006

Active Sunspot - Fun with Auroras

Dec. 7, 2006 SOLAR ACTIVITY: Big sunspot 930 continues to be a source of strong solar activity. The active region has produced two X-class flares and several lesser flares since it appeared only two days ago. Forecasters estimate a 50% chance of another X-flare during the next 24 hours.

Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) hurled into space by the blasts of Dec. 5th and 6th will not hit Earth head-on. Why not? Because the sunspot was near the sun's eastern limb and thus not facing Earth at the time of the explosions. However, we could experience glancing blows from the CMEs, producing high-latitude geomagnetic storms in the nights ahead. Northern sky watchers should remain alert for auroras.

Visit http://spaceweather.com to view photographs of the recent explosions and to listen to radio sounds from the X6-flare of Dec. 6th.

REMINDER: Don't forget to set your alarm. Jupiter, Mercury and Mars are converging to make a pretty triangle in the dawn sky. The action begins on December 8th and climaxes on Dec. 10th when the two brightest vertices of the celestial triangle, Jupiter and Mercury, will be less than a quarter of a degree apart. Visit http://spaceweather.com for observing tips and sky maps.