Huge Sunspots Scar The Sun This Week

Ten groups including three visible with the naked eye protected with a safe filter dot the sun today. Photo by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) taken at 8 a.m. CDT today July 9. Credit: NASA

A trio of impressive sunspot groups are parading across the sun’s face this week. Regions 2108, 2109 and 2110 are all closely-spaced and near the center of the disk today. All three require nothing more than a pair of eyes and a safe solar filter to view.

The sun seen through a standard 200mm telephoto lens and solar filter this morning gives you an idea of how the big sunspot groups look to the naked eye. Credit: Bob King

I took a look through my handy #14 welders glass this morning and saw 2110 distinctly; the other two groups blended into a single ‘spot’ at first. Looking closely I could barely split them into two separate dots. The view was spectacular at 30x in my little telescope with a total of ten sunspot groups and lots of fine detail in the three biggest.

Given high sunspot counts, the chance for flaring has been increasing in recent days. Today there’s a 75% chance for moderately strong M-class flares and 20% chance for the most powerful X-class variety.

Safe solar filters come in several varieties of optical / coated plastic and glass. Click to see ones you can purchase from Rainbow Symphony. Credit: Bob King

Curiously, none of the three biggies has shot off a large flare in the past day or two; they’re all currently stable. But the inconspicuous group 2113 fired off a beefy M6 flare only yesterday. It’s not expected to affect Earth, but because 2113 hides a complex magnetic field, future M-class or stronger blasts may be possible.

M6-class solar flare eruption from sunspot group 2113 captured July 8, 2014 at 11:24 a.m. by SDO. Credit: NASA

It seems like we’re due for aurora, so I’d be surprised if the current activity doesn’t lead to at least a minor storm soon. I’ll keep you updated.

11 Responses

  1. From the looks of the Kp index forecast website for the past 3 weeks, me thinks them sunspots groups are playing some version of the Tetris game.
    And they’re good at it. šŸ˜‰
    Hopefully their streak will keep going until the Moon is a few days past full šŸ™‚

  2. Edward M. Boll

    I have a 16 arc welder’s lens, probably one of the darkest available. I have looked at the Sun different times with it in the last 23 years, purchasing it on July 11, 1991, for the solar eclipse we saw it in Minneapolis. Then yesterday, I purchased a 60 mm refractor for 7 dollars. Only one eyepiece, no finder scope but a nice wooden tripod that I can adjust the height on it.

    1. Troy

      That sounds like my first telescope (it was a gift), except it had a zoom lens. Wooden tripods are vastly superior to aluminum, but I think the steel tripods are competitive. Without a finder scope you’re in for some frustration, though with mine I was still able to find Comet Halley and Uranus. (I came up with a technique of looking through the bolt connector with the left eye and through the eyepiece with the right eye, usually was pretty close.)

      1. Edward M. Boll

        Not exactly what I wanted but a guy can’t go wrong with a functioning scope for 7 bucks.

  3. Edward M. Boll

    I have not seen an article on it, but using the ifo I have, and I could be wrong, but I am guesstimating Comet Jacques to be 1 degree above Venus on the morning of July 13.

    1. astrobob

      Edward,
      They’ll be 3.5 degrees apart that morning. Thanks for bringing it up – I may write something up pegged to that event now that the comet’s returning to the morning sky.

  4. Troy

    Great views of the sun. I took your advice and took a look at it and some photos.
    That black polymer sold at Rainbow symphony is the best deal in town. They also have such an eclictic inventory, I mean a pomegranite press? Too bad they only have the smaller sizes. (If your scope is over 80 mm you’re pretty much out of luck.) The eclipse glasses are great too. Polymer doesn’t give the true color of the sun, but it is the color the sun should be. My advice get them NOW (there is a partial solar in October and of course the total coming up in 2017). If you wait a month before an eclipse you’ll likely be out of luck.

  5. Bob

    Bob,
    Thanks for the tip on the solar filter vendor! I have been debating for a long while getting filters, but not sure for the scope or binos. The reasonable prices just made up my mind.

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