Active Sun, Beautiful Aurora: Reader Photos


Readers have submitted some great images of aurorae taken last night (Sept. 26 or early morning of Sept. 27). Why all the auroral activity? Sunspot region 1302 is big and bad, spewing out some nasty stuff. NASA says the sunspot’s magnetic field is currently crackling with sub-X-class flares that could grow into larger eruptions as the sunspot continues to turn toward Earth.

Here are some reader photos of the sunspot and the aurorae it created. A stunning view from Karstad Sweden, from Flickr user Socrates 2013, is above.

Massive sunspot 1302 on Sept. 25, 2011, with an Earth inserted for size reference. Credit: Ron Cottrell

This massive sunspot region has already produced two X-flares (X1.4 on Sept. 22nd and X1.9 on Sept. 24th). The dark cores in the sunspots this image from reader Ron Cottrell is larger than Earth, (see inserted Earth for reference) and the entire active region stretches more than 100,000 km from end to end.

“Even with a small aperture, 40mm, Hydrogen – Alpha telescope the image details are amazing,” Cottrell emailed us. “I captured this image from my patio in Oro Valley, Arizona.” He used a webcam to do some image post processing.

Aurora on Sept. 26, 2011 at Porsgrunn, Norway. Credit: Kjetil Vinorum

Kjetil Vinorum sent us some aurora photos from Porsgrunn, Norway (59° 09′ 33.3″N, 9° 39′ 46.9″E) and says this is the first time he’s seen aurora so far south in a decade.

This all-sky time-lapse of the aurora on Sept. 26-27, 2011 is from Arne Danielsen of Vestby, Norway (N59°36’18” E10°45’40” A84m).
The video shows a total of 726 images, which were obtained from Sunset to Sunrise. North is up and West is right. Be patient to see the aurora! Via Cosmos4U on Twitter

The aurora over Vernon, British Columbia Canada, sent to us by UT reader Marcel.

This beautiful shot was taken on the evening of September 27, 2011 by Marcel in British Columbia, Canada. The view is overlooking an orchard in the Coldstream Municipality.

The H-Alpha Sunspot 1302 09-25-2011. Credit: John Chumack

Here’s another view of the active region 1302 from John Chumack of Galactic Images.

The region has unleashed M8.6 and M7.4 flares on Sept. 24 and an M8.8 flare early on Sept. 25. None of the blasts have been squarely Earth-directed, but this could change, NASA says, as the sunspot turns toward our planet in the days ahead. AR1302 is growing and shows no immediate signs of quieting down.

Aurora at 21:20 UTC on Sep. 26, 2011 from Königswinter, Germany. Credit: Daniel Fische
Aurora caught over Karlstad, Sweden on September 27, 2011. Credit: Socrates2013 on Flickr.

This image from Monty Leventhal shows the sunspots in region 1302 spreading across the face of the Sun for approximately 186,000 km. He used a Canon 300D with an Hydrogen-alpha filter with a Meade S.C. 10 inch telescope.

More info on AR1302 from NASA

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