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Massive Sunspot 1302

Sunset with the Massive Sun Spot 1302 (Upper left on the Sun) Credit: Adrian Scott

A highly active region on the Sun threatens to deliver powerful geomagnetic storms over the week ahead. Highly energetic solar eruptions are likely heading in our direction to give Earth’s magnetic field a significant glancing blow!

Over the past few days the new sunspot AR1302 has been incredibly active, hurling massive X-class solar flares into space and it will soon face Earth.

The massive sunspot, many times larger than the Earth (see images below) is expected to increase in size and energy, and is expected to release powerful solar flares, sparking strong geomagnetic storms.

Sun Spot AR1302 through the clouds Credit: Tavi Greiner

What does this mean for the Earth and it inhabitants?

The Earth experiences material ejected from the Sun on a daily basis and we are protected by the Earth’s own magnetic field. This is normal and has been happening since the birth of the solar system. But occasionally the Sun erupts and sends vast quantities of solar material our direction in the form of Coronal Mass Ejections (CME’s).

This can trigger very powerful geomagnetic storms, which can damage satellites in orbit and cause problems for communications and power networks. One positive outcome, though, is amazing displays of aurorae at the poles (Northern and Southern Lights).

Sunspot 1302 is expected to eject material towards Earth over the next few days, so look for news of strong geomagnetic activity and displays of aurorae.

Several observers are reporting that AR1302 is easily visible on the Sun at sunset or sunrise. Never ever look at the sun with your eyes, or any other optical aid! This will damage your eyesight permanently! The Sun should only be viewed using specialist equipment.

For further updates see Spaceweather.com and NASA’ Heliophysics Science Division

Massive Sun Spot 1302 and Earth size Comparison taken with a specialist solar filter Credit: Will Gater www.willgater.com

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Stan Taylor September 26, 2011, 12:12 PM

    Looks kinda like the Hawiian islands…

  • Bright Garlick September 26, 2011, 12:14 PM

    Thanks Adrian for bringing this to people’s attention. This is such a magnificent phenomenon and so amazing that we can watch it’s development.

    A spot like this could be the one to spell disaster for many of the world’s power grids. Please consider putting your name to a petition I have set up here : http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/prepare-the-grid-for-severe-space-weather.html

    Thanks, Bright Garlick. ;-)

  • Timothy Ryder September 26, 2011, 12:51 PM

    As I watched the Sun rise this morning (Sept. 26, 2011) the sunspot 1302 was visible by my naked eyes. Very intense if my eye can see the little black spot on the sun today.

    • Brett Schneider September 26, 2011, 3:04 PM

      …..It’s the same old thing as yesterday
      There’s a black hat caught in a high tree top
      There’s a flag-pole rag and the wind won’t stop……

  • HCG Activator September 26, 2011, 2:32 PM

    sun sport is very tiny however its easily noticeable.

    • Mark Vd G September 26, 2011, 4:37 PM

      Its HUGE!

      • HCG Activator September 26, 2011, 5:36 PM

        lol, yes when the size of spot is compared to size of sun, its indeed very big… :)

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    • Anonymous September 26, 2011, 5:15 PM

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      • HCG Activator September 26, 2011, 5:37 PM

        probably spamming the comment system.

  • Nicola Mitchell September 26, 2011, 6:04 PM

    Wow! Tried to get a picture of it tonight but the sun was behind the houses. These are great pictures. really hope we get aurora as low as lincolnshire! doubt it but i can still hope! :)

  • riley marsh September 26, 2011, 8:06 PM

    cool. Im gunna use this for my science HW.

  • Pixel Idiots September 27, 2011, 3:40 PM

    The northern lights were seen last night from Europe, New Zealand and the United States. It was the strongest geomagnetic storm since October 2003.
    A HD video of what the northern lights look like during a strong geomagnetic storm as we had yesterday can be seen at http://www.vimeo.com/27315234

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