Thursday, January 21, 2010
So it Begins
Even though a new solar cycle (cycle 24) has begun, there has not been much sunspot or aurora action, in fact, 260 days of last year were spotless and there has been very little flare activity.
That changed yesterday (Jan 20), with a series of C and M class flares were blasted out by sunspot 1041 (on the edge of the Suns image bottom left). Two of the flares were the biggest seen for years (M2 & M1.7). See Spaceweather for an image of the large zone from the STEREO spacecraft. The Sun may finally be climbing from solar minimum.
Unfortunately for aurora watchers, even thought coronal mass ejections were produced, these are aimed away from Earth and will not provide any aurora. However, if 1041 remains active, there is a good chance of aurora, at least at high latitudes, in the coming week. For amazing images of colliding aurora, see here.