Thursday, July 26, 2012

Counting Sunspots for July 26th

Above is an SDO/HMI Continuum image of the sun, taken July 26, 2012 at 12:00 UTC by the Solar Dynamics Observatory. Image Credit: NASA/SDO/HMI

Since our sun is relatively quiet for the moment, let's take the opportunity to review the most noticeable active regions (sunspots) that are currently facing Earth. Beginning from the top and going roughly counter clockwise, we can make out AR 15027, AR 1528, AR 1529, AR 1530 (on the eastern limb), and AR 1525 (near the western limb). None of these regions currently poses a threat for strong solar flares.

As of July 25th, our sunspot count for the current 11-year solar cycle is 66. The current solar cycle, Cycle 24, began January 2008.

Even though we cannot see it in the visible spectrum, there is a coronal hole over the eastern-central portion of the sun's disc that is facing Earth. A solar wind stream from this area should soon rotate to face Earth and cause some geophysical activity over July 28th to 30th. No details yet on what we may expect. Stay tuned...

To monitor solar flare activity minute by minute, visit the "Today's Space Weather" page of NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center, URL: www.swpc.noaa.gov .

To learn more about the sun and to stay current on solar activity, visit the mission home pages of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov .

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