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Stargazing Solar Activity and Space Weather Update thread

  1. Sep 20, 2017 #41
    New spot group appeared (2681) [~yesterday?]. The old one (2680) is almost getting ready to depart.
    Relatevely quiet ... + size 60 for both groups

    Note: (to everyone) Anytime an update or alert comes to your attention before me etc. please post. It helps the event to get to our attention ASAP or at least faster. [I of course try to do my best too, but I have also several other projects].
    (Relative news, articles, links, pictures and videos are also of course welcome, etc. - see description of thread in the first post ... - almost anything scientific related to Solar Physics, which seems to be getting more and more interest ...)
    Also thanks to @davenn (Dave) for his valuable input and for correcting me when/if I am wrong ...
  2. Sep 20, 2017 #42
  3. Sep 21, 2017 #43
    I received the following alert by spaceweatherlive.com this morning (06:30 UTC): (just got around to it to post it here, since no one else posted it)

    "A coronal hole is facing Earth. Enhanced solar wind could arrive in ~ 3 days"

  4. Sep 21, 2017 #44


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    yup, been watching it for a few days, it's pretty small. I am not expecting much so didn't bother to report it ...but at this time of the year, we can be surprised

    I'm more interested in the much bigger one that will be geo-effective in another couple of days.

    170921fe hires.gif

  5. Sep 24, 2017 #45
    Is this what I think it is? (left limb)
    AR2673 (the "devil") returning!? ...

    Yes it is! :
    "Latest news
    Sunday, 24 September 2017 - 14:09 UTC
    Coronal holes faces Earth, AR2673 returns"

    So indeed, AR2673 survived the rotation around our star, even being active in the meantime with monster farsided eruptions, and now the "devil" of sunspot activity is back! ... Who knows what to expect ...
  6. Sep 24, 2017 #46
    But (direct quote from the link above):
    "Sunspot region 2673 returns
    Bad news! Old sunspot region 2673 has returned on the Earth-facing solar disk. It decayed heavily on the far side and it is now a simple Alpha sunspot region with only one sunspot surrounded by large amounts of faculae. This sunspot region is unlikely to produce strong solar flares. It will likely receive sunspot number 2681 later today or tomorrow."

    (Probably they mean 2682 ... [their typo?/ + I fixed two more typos there])
  7. Oct 10, 2017 #47
    After some moderately regural Sun activity in the meantime period since the last update (see the other previously quoted threads and links for updates), today (Tue 10 Oct, 2017) there's finally a spotless day (and a new coronal hole):
    " SDO_HMIIF_512.jpg

    No sunspot regions on the visible disc today

    Current data suggest that it is not possible to see aurora now at middle latitudes
    Latest news
    Tuesday, 10 October 2017 - 15:46 UTC
    Coronal hole faces Earth
    More news"

    Note: previous spotless days: yesterday and Aug. 1, 2017;
    current stretch spotless days: 3;
    Number of spotless days in 2017: 58 .

    But/and of course we are heading towards a solar minimum ... (after a last [perhaps] random breakout this Summer, with AR2673 the leader ...)
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017
  8. Oct 11, 2017 #48
  9. Oct 14, 2017 #49
    Still no spots, today Sat. 14 Oct., 2017. A few regular geomagnetic storms these days (due to sporadic coronal holes (part of the regular sun activity) - not flares this time ...), the latest one (G1, Kp 5), a little less than an hour ago (08:59 UTC). Other than that (or before that):

    Latest geomagnetic storms:
    1. more storms prior that one (also today, this morning), similar.
    2. 2017/10/13 Kp6 (G2).
    3. 2017/10/12 Kp5 (G1).

    Number of spotless days in 2017: 62
    Current stretch spotless days: 7

    We'll probably do the spot count next time, but it seems that with no doubt we're now heading straight towards solar minimum.

    P.S. Also:
    Last day with a spot: Oct 7, 2017 (Group region 2683, on the limb)

    First (locally) spotless day: Oct 8 ...

    Finally, another storm (G1, Kp5), threshold reached 10:08 UTC (just a few minutes ago - while editing).
    [but there was another edit after that, just now, so for time estimates I mention that the previous one was about 50' ago]
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
  10. Oct 19, 2017 #50


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    a large CME was observed on the 18th Oct (UT) originating around the side of the east limb, presumably from a large solar flare
    This should be from one of the returning sunspot active regions

    171018 maj cme_c3.gif

    The two bright objects to the left are ... upper = Jupiter, lower = Mercury

    This is quite a significant CME, but doesn't appear to be Earth directed

  11. Dec 17, 2017 #51
    Spotless Sun these days. Regular and otherwise somewhat expected solar activity in this period since the last posts above. (For some details etc. e.g. cf. davenn's solar-relevant threads already quoted earlier ...). Approaching solar minimum.

    I received the following interesting one on my e-mail just a couple of days ago, with title 'The Sun is Dimming as Solar Minimum Approaches':

    "Space Weather News for Dec. 15, 2017

    THE SUN IS DIMMING: Today at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, SpaceX launched a new sensor to the International Space Station named "TSIS-1." Its mission: to measure the dimming of the sun. As the sunspot cycle plunges toward its 11-year minimum, NASA satellites are tracking a slight but significant decline in total solar irradiance (TSI). TSIS-1 will monitor this dimming with better precision than previous satellites as Solar Minimum approaches in the years ahead. Visit today's edition of Spaceweather.com to learn more about TSIS-1 and natural variations in the sun's electromagnetic output.

    The Sun is Dimming! ... Sounds "scary" but ... explained.
    Any comments?
  12. Mar 5, 2018 #52
    Here is something interesting (posted today March 5, 2018 on spaceweather.com ):

    "THE WORSENING COSMIC RAY SITUATION:Cosmic rays are bad–and they're getting worse. That's the conclusion of a new paperjust published in the research journal Space Weather. The authors, led by Prof. Nathan Schwadron of the University of New Hampshire, show that radiation from deep space is dangerous and intensifying faster than previously predicted.


    The story begins four years ago when Schwadron and colleagues first sounded the alarm about cosmic rays. Analyzing data from the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER) instrument onboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), they found that cosmic rays in the Earth-Moon system were peaking at levels never before seen in the Space Age. The worsening radiation environment, they pointed out, was a potential peril to astronauts, curtailing how long they could safely travel through space.

    This figure from their original 2014 papershows the number of days a 30-year old male astronaut flying in a spaceship with 10 g/cm2of aluminum shielding could go before hitting NASA-mandated radiation limits:


    In the 1990s, the astronaut could spend 1000 days in interplanetary space. In 2014 … only 700 days. "That's a huge change," says Schwadron.

    Galactic cosmic rays come from outside the solar system. They are a mixture of high-energy photons and sub-atomic particles accelerated toward Earth by supernova explosions and other violent events in the cosmos. Our first line of defense is the sun: The sun's magnetic field and solar wind combine to create a porous 'shield' that fends off cosmic rays attempting to enter the solar system. The shielding action of the sun is strongest during Solar Maximum and weakest during Solar Minimum–hence the 11-year rhythm of the mission duration plot above.

    The problem is, as the authors note in their new paper, the shield is weakening: "Over the last decade, the solar wind has exhibited low densities and magnetic field strengths, representing anomalous states that have never been observed during the Space Age. As a result of this remarkably weak solar activity, we have also observed the highest fluxes of cosmic rays."

    Back in 2014, Schwadron et al used a leading model of solar activity to predict how bad cosmic rays would become during the next Solar Minimum, now expected in 2019-2020. "Our previous work suggested a ~ 20% increase of dose rates from one solar minimum to the next," says Schwadron. "In fact, we now see that actual dose rates observed by CRaTER in the last 4 years exceed the predictions by ~ 10%, showing that the radiation environment is worsening even more rapidly than we expected." In this plot bright green data points show the recent excess:


    The data Schwadron et al have been analyzing come from CRaTER on the LRO spacecraft in orbit around the Moon, which is point-blank exposed to any cosmic radiation the sun allows to pass. Here on Earth, we have two additional lines of defense: the magnetic field and atmosphere of our planet. Both mitigate cosmic rays.

    But even on Earth the increase is being felt. Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus have been launching space weather balloons to the stratosphere almost weekly since 2015. Sensors onboard those balloons show a 13% increase in radiation (X-rays and gamma-rays) penetrating our planet's atmosphere:


    X-rays and gamma-rays detected by these balloons are "secondary cosmic rays," produced by the crash of primary cosmic rays into Earth's upper atmosphere. They trace radiation percolating down toward our planet's surface. The energy range of the sensors, 10 keV to 20 MeV, is similar to that of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

    How does this affect us? Cosmic rays penetrate commercial airlines, dosing passengers and flight crews so much that pilots are classified by the International Commission on Radiological Protection as occupational radiation workers. Some research shows that cosmic rays can seed clouds and trigger lightning, potentially altering weather and climate. Furthermore, there are studies ( #1, #2, #3, #4) linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias in the general population.

    Cosmic rays will intensify even more in the years ahead as the sun plunges toward what may be the deepest Solar Minimum in more than a century. Stay tuned for updates."
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