Saturday, August 07, 2010

Sol Awakens

On Sunday, August 1st at 8:55 UTC, our star, known as Sol, finally stirred after a year of slumber. The signs are telling astronomers that the sun is awakening to another cycle of solar activity. Experts do not expect the activity to peak, weakly, until mid-2013.

NASA SDO Image of the sun, July 27, 2010, five days prior to the CME. Image Credit: NASA

On that recent Sunday orbiting satellites witnessed a sizable flare erupting from the large sunspot region designated 1092. The strength of the outburst was estimated at C3, relatively modest, but it still triggered an impressive coronal mass ejection (CME) that shot out from the star at more than 600 miles (1,000 km) per second.

The event was caught by NASA's recently-launched Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). It watched as the magnetic disturbance caused an enormous filament of superheated gas to pulse across the Sun's disk.

VIDEO: NASA SDO - Filament Eruption and Solar Flare, August 1, 2010

On the night side of Earth, skywatchers at far northern and southern locations enjoyed colorful auroral displays over the night of August 3 to 4.

Since the CME, the big spot in region 1092 has been joined by a second, smaller group, called 1093. If you want to take a look for yourself, remember to view by indirect light, or by using a safe solar filter.

Check Out These Sites:

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)
http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/

VIDEO: NASA SDO - Filament Eruption and Solar Flare, August 1, 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thm6SCv-sj0&feature=player_embedded

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