Friday, September 8, 2017

SUNSPOTS AND FLARES MAKE FOR EXCITING AURORA TONIGHT

 Scientists around the world have been watching the sun recently (not due to another eclipse but) due to two gigantic sunspots - AR2673 and AR2674 - erupting into solar flares that could make for some exciting auroras as far south as Illinois and Oregon.
 On September 4 and 5, these active regions on the sun spawned multiple moderate (M-class) flares. Then two days ago on September 6, AR2673 erupted into a powerful X9.3-class solar flare, the strongest flare in over a decade.
 Alongside the flares, AR2673 blasted a coronal mass ejection (CME) towards Earth. This CME has already arrived here and has not caused much of an impact on our aurora. However another CME is on the way - this one accelerated in our direction by the previous X9.3 flare - which has the potential to create quite the aurora light show.
 Sadly there is a caveat. "...the timing couldn’t be worse," said Bob King of skyandtelescope.com. "It’s full moon and western skies are filled with smoke. A strong storm would likely still show up as bright arcs or balletic rays dancing across the northern sky. If AR2673 continues spouting flares, auroras could also appear later in the week, when the moon won’t be as much of a problem. That’s why I’d advise you to keep a lookout through the weekend."
Read more about this fascinating story at: http://earthsky.org/todays-image/sunspots-ar2673-ar2674-solar-flare-aurora-sept-2017
Photo Credit: Lenny K Photography via Flickr

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