Solar Maximum Continues through the Equinox.
This is Far From Over.
UPDATE: 2.2.2013 - spaceweather.com
SUNSPOT OF INTEREST: A break in the quiet could be in the offing. Sunspot AR1667 is crackling with C-class solar flares and appears capable of producing an even stronger M-class eruption. The sunspot is turning toward Earth, so future blasts would likely be geoeffective. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
LOUD SOLAR RADIO BURST: Yesterday, Feb. 2nd, the solar activity forecast called for "quiet." In fact, says amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft, "it was really loud. There were several strong solar radio emissions including one super-strong Type III burst at 1954 UT. I captured it at 28 MHz and 21.1 MHz as it totally drowned out a short wave voice transmission." Click on the image to listen:
The source of the burst was sunspot AR1667, which unleashed a C2.9-class solar flare just before the roar emerged from the loudspeaker of Ashcraft's radio telescope. Type III solar radio bursts are produced by electrons accelerated to high energies (1 to 100 keV) by solar flares. As the electrons stream outward from the sun, they excite plasma oscillations and radio waves in the sun's atmosphere.
When these radio waves head in the direction of Earth, they make themselves heard in the loudspeakers of shortwave radios around the dayside of the planet.
More radio bursts could be in the offing. Sunspot AR1667 is crackling with C-class solar flares and seems poised for even stronger M-class eruptions. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
COMET LEMMON UPDATE: Glowing much brighter than expected, Comet Lemmon (C/2012 F6) is gliding through the skies of the southern hemisphere about 92 million miles (0.99 AU) from Earth. Amateur astronomer Rolf Wahl Olsen sends this picture from his backyard in Auckland, New Zealand:
"I took this image of Comet Lemmon on the 28th of January," says Olsen. "It has become quite bright now and has also grown a beautiful tail."
Discovered on March 23rd 2012 by the Mount Lemmon survey in Arizona, Comet Lemmon is on an elliptical orbit with a period of almost 11,000 years. This is its first visit to the inner solar system in a very long time. The comet is brightening as it approaches the sun; light curves suggest that it will reach 2nd or 3rd magnitude, similar to the stars in the Big Dipper, in late March when it approaches the sun at about the same distance as Venus (0.7 AU).
At the moment, the comet is glowing like a 7th magnitude star, just below the limit of naked-eye visibility. To capture the faint details of the comet's filamentary tail, Olsen used a 10-inch telescope, a sensitive CCD camera, and an exposure time of 1 hour 17 minutes. Complete photo details are given here.
Lemmon's green color comes from the gases that make up its coma. Jets spewing from the comet's nucleus contain cyanogen (CN: a poisonous gas found in many comets) and diatomic carbon (C2). Both substances glow green when illuminated by sunlight in the near-vacuum of space.
Northern hemisphere observers will get their first good look at the comet in early April; until then it is a target exclusively for astronomers in the southern hemisphere.
On February 3, 2013 there were 1376 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
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Quick video capturing the C8.4 Solar Flare. Because the flare was impulsive in nature, not much in the way of a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is expected. Sunspot 1667 continues to develop and may produce a moderate solar flare within the next 12-24 hours.
Added 02/03/2013 @ 07:50 UTC
C8.4 Solar Flare
Solar activity increased to near moderate levels with a solar flare registering C8.4 at 06:10 UTC. The source of the flare was Sunspot 1667 located in the northeast quadrant. Keep an eye on this region for further activity.
Updated 02/02/2013 @ 14:15 UTC
Solar Update / CME Update
Solar activity is currently low with a minor C1.2 solar flare detected around Sunspot 1665. Sunspot 1667 is producing B-Class activity after rotating into view off the northeast limb. There will remain a chance for C-Class flares.
A CME impact is expected by February 3rd due to an early morning filament eruption on January 31. Only minor geomagnetic disturbances are expected at very high latitudes. Click HERE to watch the latest WSA-Enlil Solar Wind Prediction model.
The Visible Solar Disk (Saturday) - SDO
Sunspot 1665 in CaK (Friday) - Ron Cottrell / Kitt Peak
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Added 01/31/2013 @ 17:20 UTC
A large prominence stretching hundreds of thousands of kilometers located in the northeast quadrant erupted on Thursday. A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) will most likely be flung into space. Images and movie below by SDO. More to follow.
CME UPDATE: As expected, the northeast quadrant prominence eruption on Thursday flung a Coronal Mass Ejection into space. The plasma cloud was directed to the northeast and away from Earth. This image by Lasco C3.
Click HERE for a closer look.