Big Sunspot Sends Blast Our Way, Storm Expected Sunday

A powerful flare set off a large coronal mass ejection (CME) of solar plasma headed in our direction. Effects of the blast are expected by Sunday. These photo were made with the coronagraph on board the orbiting Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. Credit: NASA/ESA

After a few days of all show and no action, that big, scenic sunspot group let loose a powerful M-class flare early yesterday evening. The blast sent a giant cloud of solar plasma — electrons and protons bundled with magnetic energy — in Earth’s direction that’s expected to arrive Sunday (July 16) around lunch time and swell into a moderate (G2) geomagnetic storm toward nightfall. Strong and long, the Thursday night’s event lasted for several hours.

This photo of the flare-producing sunspot region #2665 was taken this morning (July 14) by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. A smaller sunspot group recently appeared just to its north. Credit: NASA

As with the last storm in May, there will be no moon to lighten the sky, so if your forecast is good, be on the alert that evening. Watch for a pale green bow and rays in the northern sky toward the end of dusk.

“Look into my eye.” The Great Red Spot and neighborhood on July 10, 2017. Credit: NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstaedt and Sean Doran

Back to Jupiter! Here are a couple extra photos from the recent flyover of the Great Red Spot.

This size comparison should bring home how big this storm truly is. Credit: NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Jason Major/Tony Rice