Dr. C. Alex Young

September 24, 2022

Latest Updates About Solar Activity

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] What's happening on the Sun this week? Find out about our current space weather & what we can expect here on Earth. (Image: NASA/SDO)
September 20, 2022

Aurora Season: Why More Auroras at Equinoxes?

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] This week started with the return of region AR3088, now labeled AR3102. Activity increased by the weekend with several M flares and the return of region AR3089.(Image: David Mark)
September 12, 2022

Sun activity: Week of September 12, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] This week started with the return of region AR3088, now labeled AR3102. Activity increased by the weekend with several M flares and the return of region AR3089.(Image: NASA/Helioviewer)
September 6, 2022

September Equinox 2022 – Time for a change

Are you ready for a change of season? It is that time of year again – September 2022 Equinox. Get ready for Fall or Spring depending on where you live. The Equinox occurs on September 23, 2022 at 01:03 UTC […]
September 5, 2022

Sun Activity: Week of September 5, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] This week started with auroras produced by a geomagnetic storm. With the departure of sunspot region AR3089, sun activity gave way to low-level flaring. (Image: NASA/SDO)
August 29, 2022

Sun activity: Week of August 29, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] M flares and activity from AR3088 kicked off an action-packed week that ended with spectacular auroras. (Image: NASA/Helioviewer)
August 22, 2022

Sun Activity: Week of August 22, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] Auroral activity died down then sun activity started quietly with dancing prominences and a strange coronal hole. It ended with a flurry of M flares. (Image: NASA/GOES-16 SUVI/ NOAA)
August 15, 2022

Sun Activity: Week of August 15, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] The week began with a spectacular filament eruption and CME, an amazing week of aurora and ended with a nice calm. (Image: NASA/SDO)
August 8, 2022

Sun Activity: Week of August 8, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] The week started low activity, a few filament eruptions, then ended with a a super-long coronal hole! (Image: NASA/SDO)
August 1, 2022

Sun Activity: Week of August 1, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] Activity remained low on the sun's Earth-facing side, however, plenty of action occurred on the far side. (Image: NASA/GOES 15 SUVI, NOAA)
July 25, 2022

Sun Activity: Week of July 25, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] Mostly quiet. But by July 31, we started seeing activity on the sun's far side. It might soon rotate into our view. (Image: NASA/SDO)
July 18, 2022

Sun Activity: Week of July 18, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] Amazing displays of aurora from the northern US, Canada, Europe and even New Zealand. What a show! (Image: NASA/SOHO/LASCO)
July 17, 2022

Sun Activity: Week of July 11, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] Filaments, eruptions, M-flares, sunspots, and a comet dives into the Sun! (Image: NASA/SDO)
July 12, 2022

Studying Stars Near & Far: Parker & Webb

Parker Solar Probe has touched the Sun. The James Webb Space Telescope will be looking at the earliest stars. In between, is the Universe we know.
July 11, 2022

Sun Activity: Week of July 4, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] Activity started off low for the week but ended with many new sunspots and two M flares. (Image: NASA/SDO & Helioviewer)
June 28, 2022

Far Far Away: Aphelion 2022

Earth is at its farther distance in orbit around the Sun on July 4, 2022 at 7:10 UTC • 3:10 am EDT • 12:10 am PDT.
June 27, 2022

Sun Activity: Week of June 27, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] Auroras, Big new sunspot, SDO sees a partial eclipse from space (Image: NOAA/SWPC)
June 20, 2022

Sun Activity: Week of June 20, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] Some C-class flares, prominences, minor geomagnetic storm, and a beautiful CME. (Image: ESA Proba2 / SolarMonitor.org)
June 16, 2022

June Solstice 2022: Change of Seasons

The June solstice is the beginning of summer for the northern hemisphere and winter for the southern hemisphere. It occurs on Tuesday, June 21st at 9:13 UTC at 5:13 am EDT • 4:13 am CDT • 3:13 MDT • 2:13 am PDT
June 13, 2022

Sun Activity: Week of June 13, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] 6-13: Sun activity has picked up • 6/14: CME glancing blow tomorrow and possible auroras • 6/15: The CME is here • 6/16: Heliophysics Big Year ahead • 6/17: Sunspot AR3031 promises action • 6/18: Sunspot AR3030 main player • 6/19: Sun activity low with a bit of solar wind (Image: NASA/Helioviewer)
June 6, 2022

Sun Activity: Week of June 6, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] The sun has been relatively quiet from June 2 - 10, slightly more than a week. Notable was an M1.2 but mostly just C and B flares. Minor non-Earth-directed CMEs and many dancing filaments. (Image: NASA/SDO)
May 30, 2022

Sun Activity: Week of May 30, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] Parker Solar Probe hits a milestone. A mixed-up sunspot. Double filaments with double CMEs. (Image: NASA/SDO)
May 23, 2022

Sun Activity: Week of May 23, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] Filament eruptions, coronal holes, a few flares of note, and more! (Image: NASA/SOHO)
May 16, 2022

Sun Activity: Week of May 16, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] Recap of flares, filament eruptions, coronal holes, and more! (Image: NOAA)
May 13, 2022

Total Lunar Eclipse — May 15-16, 2022

The entire eclipse will be visible for most of North America, Central America, and South America. Western Europe, western Africa, and Antarctica will see at least some of the eclipse.
May 9, 2022

Sun Activity: Week of May 9, 2022

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] 5/9: low sun activity; 5/10: X-flare from AR3006; 5/11: Rare magnetic crochet and CMEs; 5/12: Moderate, possible glancing CME; 5/13: Sun activity moderate; 5/14: Possible glancing CME; 5/15: Beautiful prominence eruption (Image: NOAA)
May 3, 2022

Why are East & West on the Sun Reversed?

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] East and west on the sun are opposite from what you might expect. On the sun, east is to the left and west is to the right. Learn why here. (Image: NASA/SDO)
May 2, 2022

A Grand Solar Minimum? Or a Normal Sun?

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] A Grand Solar Minimum happens when the peaks of several solar cycles in a row show less than average intensity. Are we in one? (Image: NOAA)
May 1, 2022

What Does the Sun’s X-Ray Flux Tell Us?

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] Solar physicists often speak of the sun's X-ray flux as being high, or low. Solar flares are like waves on the background ocean of the sun's X-ray flux.
April 25, 2022

Partial Solar Eclipse — April 30, 2022

The April 30, 2022 partial solar eclipse is the first eclipse of the first eclipse season of 2022. It will be visible starting in the southeast Pacific Ocean, the edge of Antarctica, and southern South America.
April 25, 2022

Eclipse Season — April-May 2022

The first eclipse season of 2022 starts with a partial eclipse on April 30. It ends with a total lunar eclipse May 15-16.
March 27, 2022

Sun Activity: A CME Headed Our Way

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] NASA estimates the CME will impact Earth late on March 27, 2022, or early on March 28. Activity at Earth is expected to be minor. Image via NASA SDO - The Sun on March 28, 2022 at 1:45 UTC.
March 26, 2022

Solar Filaments, aka Prominences, Arc Upwards

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] Solar filaments (aka prominences, when viewed on the limb of the sun) are large, bright arcs of solar material and magnetic fields.
March 24, 2022

Aurora Season: Why More Auroras at Equinoxes?

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] This pattern in nature – auroras increasing twice a year – is one of the earliest patterns ever to be observed and recorded by scientists.
March 19, 2022

Sun activity: Possible CME Sideswipe Weekend of March 18

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] Sun activity for March 19, 2022. As you can see from the image, most of the activity right now is occurring on the limbs of the sun, as seen from Earth’s perspective. Image via NASA SDO.
March 19, 2022

Time for a Change: 2022 March Equinox

YAY! Another change of season is here. The 2022 March Equinox happens on March 20, 2022 at 15:33 UTC (11:33 am EDT • 8:33 am PDT)
March 14, 2022

Sunspot Region AR2965, M2 Solar Flare & Glorious Auroras

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] Lots of fun with the Sun lately. A coronal mass ejection slammed into Earth and gave weekend aurora. Then the Sun fired off a moderate solar flare.
January 31, 2022

Big sunspot region AR2936 has blasted a CME toward Earth

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] The large sunspot region AR2936 – which quadrupled in size this past weekend – released an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME) on January 30, 2022.
January 1, 2022

Happy New Year and Perihelion 2022 – A close swing by the Sun

On January 4, 2022, at 1:52 a.m. EST (6:52 UTC), Earth's orbit will be at our closest point to the Sun for the year.
December 21, 2021

Aurora Alert for December 23, After M-class Flares

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] There’s been a small uptick in solar activity over the past two days (December 20 and 21, 2021). The increase comes from the fact that nine sunspot groups (active regions or AR) now pepper the visible face of the sun.
December 18, 2021

A New Season Begins & a Little Geometry Weirdness

It is the 2021 December Solstice! 15:58 GMT • 10:58 am EST • 9:58 am CST • 8:58 MST • 7:58 am PST Convert Your Timezone A new season is upon us! Depending upon where you live:  OR The December […]
December 4, 2021

December 4, 2021 – Eclipse in Antarctica

A total solar eclipse was visible in Antarctica! Check out the recap and replay of the event. Image credit: Mathew Schwartz (2017)
November 17, 2021

A Deep Partial Lunar Eclipse from the Last Eclipse Season of 2021

During the early morning hours of November 19 or late evening hours of November 18, depending on your location and time zone, the full moon will pass through Earth's dark or inner shadow (umbra) creating a deep partial lunar eclipse.
November 6, 2021

How Big is the Sun?

The Sun is really really big! It is difficult to get a true feel for how big it is because nothing in our daily life comes even close.
November 4, 2021

Aurora Alert! CME Impacting Earth Arriving November 4, 2021

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] Aurora alert in effect for the next few days: the sun sent out a halo coronal mass ejection on November 2, 2021, due to arrive at Earth on November 4.
October 30, 2021

Solar Storm and Aurora Starting Tonight 10.30.2021

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] A solar storm after an eruption on the sun is carrying plasma toward Earth, which should produce northern and southern lights this weekend.
September 22, 2021

September 2021 Equinox and Another Sprinkling of Aurora

WHOOO HOO! It’s a change of season! The next Equinox occurs on September 22, 2021 at 19:21 UTC (3:21 p.m. EDT • 12:21 p.m. PDT). It’s the Autumnal (Fall) equinox for the Northern Hemisphere! It’s the Vernal (Spring) equinox for […]
September 1, 2021

Aurora Alert! Pair of CMEs to Jolt Earth’s Magnetic Field

[Alex on EARTHSKY.ORG] Aurora alert! A pair of coronal mass ejections will reach Earth September 1-2, 2021. Though not dangerous to satellites or the grid, they might cause auroras.
July 4, 2021

So Far Away: Aphelion 2021

This farthest point occurs July 5, 2021, at 6:27 pm EDT or 10:27 pm UTC. At that time the distance from Earth’s center to the Sun’s center will be 94,510,886 miles (152,100,527 km).
June 20, 2021

Super Hot Stamps from the USPS – SDO Sun Science Stamps

What a great way to celebrate the Sun's importance in our lives—a stamp series from the United States Postal Service. #SunScienceStamps #NASASunScience
June 20, 2021

Time for a Change of Seasons – 2021 June Solstice

The June Solstice for 2021 occurs on June 21st at 3:22 UTC (11:32 pm EDT on June 20th). It is the beginning of summer for the northern hemisphere and winter for the southern hemisphere.
May 24, 2021

The May-June Eclipse Season for 2021

Every year we get a collection of 4 to 7 eclipses somewhere on Earth, either lunar, solar, partial, or total. These eclipses come in seasons, a 35-day period with typically two eclipses sometimes three. There are usually two seasons per year. 2021 has two.
March 19, 2021

March Equinox 2021 & a Touch of Aurora

WHOOO HOO! It’s a change of season! The next Equinox occurs on March 20, 2021, at 9:36 UT (5:36 am ET). It’s the Vernal (Spring) equinox for the Northern Hemisphere!  It’s the Autumnal (Fall) equinox for the Southern Hemisphere! But […]
February 8, 2021

Happy 1st Anniversary Solar Orbiter – The Science is Just Beginning

February 9, 2021 marks the one year anniversary of the launch of the ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter Mission. It was launched from Kennedy Space Center at 11:03 pm ET on February 9, 2020. This mission is a single spacecraft designed with […]
January 1, 2021

Happy Closest to the Sun Day – Perihelion 2021!

January 2, 2021 at 8:50 a.m. EST (13:50 UTC), all of us on Earth and in orbit around Earth will be at our closest point to the Sun for the year. This point of closest approach to the Sun is […]
December 21, 2020

Looking at the Planets: Solstice & the Great Conjunction 2020

December 21, 2020 is an amazing day for astronomy lovers! It's the December Solstice and the Great Conjunction of Saturn & Jupiter. Here's how they connect and some easy suggestions for making your own observations of the sky.
November 28, 2020

November-December 2020 Eclipse Season

The second eclipse season of 2020 is here with a penumbral lunar eclipse & total solar eclipse...with bonus sky-watching tips!
September 21, 2020

It’s Equinox Time – September 2020

This marks the beginning of fall for the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of spring for the Southern Hemisphere. The change happens at 9:30 a.m. EDT (1330 UTC/GMT) on Tuesday, September 22.
July 3, 2020

Welcome to Aphelion 2020: Farthest point from the Sun!

Happy Aphelion 2020! July is summer in the northern hemisphere and you might think this means we are closer to the Sun. This is a common misconception. Earth is actually farther from the Sun in July and on July 4th […]
June 19, 2020

Fun with the Sun June 20 -21: The Solstice and an Annular Solar Eclipse

The weekend of June 20 – 21, 2020 has a lot going on when it comes to the Sun. We get to enjoy two exciting events thanks to the orbital dance between Earth and the Moon as the move together […]
March 19, 2020

Happy Vernal Equinox 2020: The Earliest in 124 Years

It’s Time Again for the Change of Seasons—the Vernal or March Equinox 2020! This marks the beginning of spring for the Northern Hemisphere and the beginning of fall for the Southern Hemisphere. The change happens at 11:49 p.m. EDT (0349 […]
January 5, 2020

Happy Perihelion 2020!

All of us on Earth and in orbit reached our closest point to the Sun, January 5 at 2:48 EST or 7:48 Universal Time (UT). This point of closest approach to the Sun is called perihelion. The point when Earth […]
December 21, 2019

Happy Solstice! December 2019

The December solstice for 2019 arrives on Dec. 22nd at 04:19 UT (December 21st 11:19 pm EST). It is called the winter solstice for the Northern Hemisphere and the summer solstice for the Southern Hemisphere. But what is the solstice […]
June 30, 2019

Eclipse in Chile & Argentina – July 2, 2019

Did you miss the Total Solar Eclipse! Check out our recap & replay of the live event.
June 21, 2019

Happy June Solstice 2019!

Happy June Solstice 2019! The beginning of summer for the northern hemisphere and winter for the southern hemisphere. The June Solstice comes on June 21, 2019 at 11:54 a.m. EDT.  But what is the solstice exactly? There are two solstices […]
March 2, 2019

Layers of the Sun

The Sun, as shown by the illustration to the left, can be divided into six layers. From the center out, the layers of the Sun are as follows: the solar interior composed of the core (which occupies the innermost quarter […]
February 7, 2019

How Does Sunlight Push Asteroids?

Near-Earth asteroids like Bennu pose a potential danger to our planet, so it's important to predict their orbits with great accuracy. Unfortunately, a phenomenon called the Yarkovsky effect can make these predictions difficult over long time periods. How does this effect work?
February 5, 2019

Our Star – An Introduction to the Sun

The Sun is 150 million kilometers (93 million miles) away from the Earth (this distance varies slightly throughout the year because the Earth's orbit is an ellipse and not a perfect circle).
July 14, 2018

Bastille Day Blast! A Celebratory Solar Flare

On July 14 2000, the sun produced a spectacular show! Sunspot region NOAA AR9077 when it was close to sun center let of a BANG!!! It was what one might call a text book space weather event. First came the […]
December 21, 2017

Happy December 2017 Solstice!

The December solstice for 2017 begins on Dec. 21st at 16:28 UT (11:28 am EST). It is called the winter solstice for the Northern Hemisphere and the summer solstice for the Southern Hemisphere. But what is the solstice exactly? There […]
August 21, 2017

Eclipse Across America – August 21, 2017

For the first time since 1979, the contiguous United States will be treated to a total solar eclipse. Even more exciting, the path of totality across the USA starts in Oregon and ends in South Carolina.
June 20, 2017

Happy June Solstice 2017! Oh and the Eclipse!

Happy June Solstice 2017! The beginning of summer for the northern hemisphere and winter for the southern hemisphere. Oh, and it is two months until the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse! The June Solstice comes on June 21, 2017 […]
March 20, 2017

Happy March Equinox 2017

The March equinox for 2017 begins on March 20th at 10:29 UT (6:29 am EDT.) The Spring or Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is the Fall or Autumnal Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa. But what is the equinox […]
February 24, 2017

‘The 2017 Ring of Fire’ – Annular Solar Eclipse

A ‘Ring of Fire’ for parts of South America and Africa An annular solar eclipse will grace parts of South America and Southern Africa starting on the morning of Sunday, February 26, 2017. The event begins at 12:10 UTC as […]
December 20, 2016

Happy December 2016 Solstice!

The December solstice for 2016 begins on Dec. 21st at 10:44 UT (5:44 am EST). It is called the winter solstice for the Northern Hemisphere and the summer solstice for the Southern Hemisphere.   But what is the solstice exactly? […]
September 22, 2016

Happy September Equinox 2016

The September equinox for 2016 begins on September 22th at 14:21 UT (10:21 am EDT.) The September Equinox is the Fall or Autumnal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere and the Spring or Vernal Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere. But what is the […]
June 20, 2016

A Rare Full Moon June Solstice for 2016!

For 2016, we get the special treat of a full moon on the June Solstice. This last happened in 1967 and will not happen again until 2062. The June solstice for 2016 begins on June 20th at 22:34 UT (6:34 pm EDT.) […]
May 8, 2016

Transit of Mercury – May 9, 2016

The planet Mercury will move in front of the sun, May 9, 2016, starting around 7:15 a.m. EDT and ending around 2:45 p.m. EDT. It can be seen from the ground with special solar viewing equipment however, the best way to […]
March 20, 2016

Happy Spring Equinox 2016

The March equinox for 2016 begins on March 20th at 04:30 UT (12:30 am EDT.) The Spring or Vernal Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is the Fall or Autumnal Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere and vice versa. But what is the equinox […]
March 7, 2016

Southeast Asia Total Solar Eclipse 2016

The moon will pass in front of the sun, casting its shadow over much of Southeast Asia on March 8, 2016 EST (March 9 local time). Get details & watch live!
July 6, 2015

Happy Aphelion 2015!

Earth reached its farthest point from the sun July 6 at 3:41 p.m. EDT or July 6 at 19:41 in Universal Time (UT). This is called aphelion. The distance from the Sun’s center to Earth’s center will be 152,093,481 kilometers or 94,506,507 miles. The […]
June 21, 2015

Happy June Solstice 2015

The June solstice for 2015 begins on June 21st at 16:39 UT (12:39 pm EDT.) It is called the summer solstice for the Northern Hemisphere and the winter solstice for the Southern Hemisphere. But what is the solstice exactly? There are two solstices in […]
April 3, 2015

Shortest Total Lunar Eclipse of the Century – April 4, 2015

During the early morning hours of April 4, the full moon will pass through Earth's dark or inner shadow (umbra) creating a total lunar eclipse.
March 19, 2015

March 20, 2015 Supermoon Solar Eclipse

On March 20, 2015 a supermoon total solar eclipse occurs in the Faroe Islands and Svalbard (Norway), and a partial solar eclipse in Europe, northern and eastern Asia and northern and western Africa. The eclipse starts at 07:41 UT and ends […]
March 2, 2015

NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) Mission: Studying magnetic fields around the Earth

By looking close to home, NASA’s newest mission with provide a window to the universe. Countdown to MMS Launch [ujicountdown id=”Countdown to MMS Launch” expire=”2015/03/12 22:44″ hide=”” url=”” subscr=””] The Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission was created to study how magnetic […]
February 11, 2015

Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) – Year 5

Happy Birthday SDO! 5 years with much more to come! The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) celebrates its 5th anniversary since it launched on February 11, 2010. This time-lapse video captures one frame every 8 hours starting when data became available […]
January 5, 2015

Welcome to Perihelion 2015!

Earth reached its closest point from the sun, January 4, at 1:36am EDT or January 4 at 6:36am in Universal Time (UT). This is called perihelion. The point of closest approach is called perihelion. These terms are specific to a […]
December 21, 2014

The December 2014 Solstice

The December solstice for 2014 begins on Dec. 21st at 23:03 UT (6:03 pm EST, 3:03 pm PST.) It is called the winter solstice for the Northern Hemisphere and the summer solstice for the Southern Hemisphere. But what is the […]
December 9, 2014

Be an Aurora Hunter!

Do you want to be an Aurora Hunter but have no idea how to get started? (LINKS UPDATED BELOW) Now you can be one through Aurorasaurus – be part of a grand experiment “Reporting Auroras from the Ground Up.” Join […]
October 23, 2014

AR12192: Biggest Sunspot of Two Solar Cycles!

As of October 23, 2014, AR12192 is now the Biggest sunspot in 2 solar cycles. Just yesterday it reached the rank of largest sunspot in cycle 24. The sunspot measures a whopping 2700 microhemispheres (MH or millionths of a visible […]
October 22, 2014

Another X-flare from AR12192

14:28 UT – Flare peaked in GOES X-rays at X1.6   14:17 UT – The flare is still in progress but at the X1.4 level. NOAA/SWPC issued a R3 (out of 5) radio blackout (Wide area blackout of HF (high […]
October 22, 2014

AR12192: The Largest Sunspot Group of Solar Cycle 24

Since rotating into view, the sunspot group AR12192 has continued to grow in size and complexity, becoming the largest sunspot of the current solar cycle, cycle 24 (SC24.) The region has produced numerous C and M-class flares including an X1 flare. As […]
October 20, 2014

October 23, 2014 Partial Solar Eclipse

On Oct. 23, 2014 a partial solar eclipse will be visible to most of North America in the late afternoon. This is the last eclipse of 2014. Never look at the sun or an eclipse directly!  Eye safety during solar eclipses […]
October 19, 2014

The Big Spot Gives an X1.1 Solar Flare

Sunspot group, AR12192, released a strong burst of magnetic energy in the form of an X1.1 flare and a surge of solar plasma. The solar flare peaked in the GOES X-ray monitor at 5:01 UT, 10/19/2014. There was no significant […]
October 18, 2014

A Big Spot Coming into View

The active region on the southeast limb has now been designated as AR12192. This region has already produced several M and many C-class flares. Philippe Tosi of Nîmes, France, took this photograph of AR12192 on Oct. 18, 2014. The animated […]
September 12, 2014

The Small Storm Before the Big Storm?

UPDATE #4 (13:30 UT 9/13)) – The storm is subsiding but beautiful aurora were had by many. Even down to the northern US like Maine. “I took the picture from Casco, Maine, facing north towards the Presidential Range in New Hampshire,” […]
September 10, 2014

AR12158 Gives Away an X-flare and CME

AR12158 produced an X1.6 flare along with a coronal mass ejection. The flare peaked in X-rays at 17:45 UT. 18:20 UT (9/11/2014) – This movie is a difference movie created by Dr. Nariaki Nitta (@halocme) from the Lockheed Martin Solar and […]
September 2, 2014

A Dazzling Eruption Captured by STEREO Behind

SDO and SOHO were not the only spacecraft to capture the spectacular eruption off the East (left) limb of the sun on August 24, 2014. The M5.9 flare (at 12:17 UT) from AR 12151 was seen by the STEREO SECCHI […]
August 29, 2014

Earth is Eclipsing the Sun When Seen from Space

The Fall 2014 Eclipse SDO Eclipse Season starts today. Around 7:30 UT (2:30 EDT) each day for the next 3 weeks (until Sept. 21), Earth will pass between the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and the sun. The first eclipse is only […]
August 10, 2014

Super Supermoon Sunday!

Today’s full moon is the year’s closest supermoon. Today’s full moon is the year’s closest supermoon. A supermoon is when a full moon or a new moon is coincident with the closest approach (called perigee) of the Moon to Earth. […]
August 4, 2014

Giant Filament Staring at Earth

High above the solar surface in the hot million+ C solar corona sits a giant filament of cooler (~50,000 C), denser material, both supported and restrained by solar magnetic fields. If this filament should become unstable as they sometimes do […]
July 8, 2014

Another M-flare from AR12113

01:22 UT – AR12113 produced an M1.2 flare that peaked in GOES X-ray at 00:26 UT Type II radio emission was detected at 00:29 UT. This emission is associated with a solar eruption and typically indicate a coronal mass ejection […]
July 8, 2014

AR12113 Erupts with an M6.5 Flare

03:11 UT – Space Weather researchers at NASA/GSFC have determined the CME may affect Mars and Spitzer as well as possibly glance Earth. The CME has an estimated speed of 725 km/s. Below is a computer model showing the CMEs […]
July 5, 2014

Welcome to Aphelion 2014!

Earth reaches its furthest point from the sun, July 3, at 8pm EDT or July 4 at 1am in Universal Time (UT). This is called aphelion. The point of closest approach is called perihelion. These terms are specific to a […]
June 30, 2014

Solar Activity May Soon Be on the Rise

The active sun is rotating into view, that could mean there is solar fun to come. For the past 2 weeks that sun has been a bit quiet but that is only because the regions of current solar activity were […]
June 20, 2014

The June 2014 Solstice

The June solstice for 2014 begins on June 21st at 10:51 UT (6:51 am EDT.) It is called the summer solstice for the Northern Hemisphere and the winter solstice for the Southern Hemisphere. But what is the solstice exactly? There are two solstices in a […]
June 17, 2014

The Sun is really, really big!

A giant filament on the eastern edge of the sun really puts the size of our star, Earth and the planets into perspective. This structure of solar plasma, a billion plus tons of 80,000 degree Fahrenheit material, sits high above […]
June 12, 2014

A CME Impact at Earth – Maybe?

NOAA active region AR12087 began making its activity apparent in SDO well before it became visible on the Earth facing solar disk. Solar flares from the region became visible in the first week of June. On June 10, the region […]
June 10, 2014

Double X! AR12087 Produces Back-to-back X Flares

Just after the X2.2 AR12087 let out an X1.5 flare peaking at 12:52 UT. Here is a snapshot of the event using the SDO/AIA 131 angstrom channel. This shows plasmas with temperatures up to about 10 million Kelvin. http://youtu.be/cV5ccg3n_J0 The […]
June 10, 2014

X2.2 Solar Flare from New Region on Southeast Limb

12:05 UT – X flare!! An X2.2 solar flare from a new region (AR12087) on the southeast limb is underway. The flare peaked in x-rays around 11:42 UT. Here is a snapshot from the SDO/AIA 94 angstrom channel with the […]
June 9, 2014

Geomagnetic Storm and Aurora from Brush with CME

High latitude observers treated with spectacular aurora June 8 and June 9th. The CME that glanced Earth’s magnetosphere on June 7 started a minor geomagnetic disturbance just after the impact that grew into a G1 then G2 level geomagnetic storm […]
June 7, 2014

CME from Filament Eruption Brushes Earth

The CME is here! As predicted the CME from the June 4 filament eruption impacted Earth’s magnetosphere around 16:30 UT with a glancing blow and created a minor geomagnetic disturbance. The plot above shows the solar wind measured by the ACE spacecraft, […]
June 6, 2014

Possible Glancing Blow CME

The slow CME produced by the giant filament eruption from June 4 could give Earth a glancing blow. The impact should be very weak but there could be a minor geomagnetic enhancement on June 7. High latitude aurora watchers may […]
June 5, 2014

Giant Filament Erupting into Space

A huge filament on the southeast of the sun erupted towards the end of June 4. The filament was somewhere between a whopping 500,000 – 1 million km in length. This eruption produced a fairly slow coronal mass ejection that […]
April 14, 2014

Total Eclipse of the Moon – April 14-15, 2014

During the nighttime hours of April 14 or 15 (depending on your time zone), the full moon will pass through Earth's dark or inner shadow (umbra) creating a total lunar eclipse for most of North and South America.
February 28, 2014

SDO Spring Eclipse Season 2014

It’s that time of year. SDO spring eclipse season started February 27, 2014. During the 3 week season, Earth will pass between SDO and the Sun around 07:30 UT each day. Initially the eclipses are a few minutes long. Their […]
February 20, 2014

Starting the Day with a Flare, Protons and a Geomagnetic Storm

Geomagnetic storms continue while an eruption on the west limb of the sun brings a flare, protons and possibly another CME our way. Solar Eruption The sun erupted with an M3 X-ray flare (NOAA Scale R1-Minor radio blackout) peaked in […]
February 19, 2014

Geomagnetic Storm and Aurora from Valentine’s Weekend CME

A CME from February 16, 2014 has impacted Earth. The CME’s magnetic structure was such that it stirred things up in the magnetosphere.   A significant interplanetary shock detected by ACE at L1 at 3:10 UT, February 19, 2014.   The […]
February 14, 2014

Waiting for an Aurora Valentine

3 CMEs are headed for Earth with the first impact expected late on Feb. 14, 2014 for some Valentine’s day and weekend aurora! Space weather forecasters are waiting to see what is in store for this weekend. Three separate CMEs […]
February 12, 2014

Current Solar Rumblings and Valentine’s Day Aurora

A whole lot of spots going on! We no longer have the rumbling region AR11967 but the solar disk is covered with smaller regions and AR11974 is sitting at disk center popping of lots of small and medium-sized flares. It […]
February 5, 2014

AR11967 Still Remains Moderately Active

The level of solar activity is moderate. NOAA region 11967 continues to be the largest and most complex active region on disk. This region would engulf Jupiter and several Earths all at once. This region has maintained spot area and decreased marginally in […]
February 3, 2014

The Sun’s Magnetic Poles Have Flipped…Solar Max is Here!

Although this might sound alarming, there really is nothing to worry about! It’s a normal part of the solar cycle – it heralds the second half of the solar cycle. Learn about why this happens. At a Glance The sun’s […]
February 1, 2014

AR11967 Continues its Flaring and AR11968 Sends a CME Our Way

 There are two main active regions (ARs 11967/11968) on the sun and both are giving a moderate show. AR11967 continues to produce C- and M-level events, including an M3.0 flare at 07:14 UT Feb. 1, 2014. The region continues to show signs […]
January 31, 2014

Possible Glancing Blow from M6.6 Associated CME

CME may impact Earth on Feb. 2, 2014 according to NASA SWRC research models. At 16:11 UT Jan. 30, 2014, an M6.6 flare from AR11967 peaked in the GOES X-ray monitor. This was about 15 minutes after the completion of an […]
January 29, 2014

A Long Lunar Transit for SDO – Jan. 30, 2014

UPDATES 16:17 UT (11:17 UT) – The transit ends with a bang! – an M6.6 flare peaked at 16:11 from AR11967. These images are from just before the flare peak at around 16:00 UT (11:00 EST) again in all 9 SDO/AIA wavelengths. […]
January 29, 2014

AR11967 Keeps Up Activity – More M-flares Possible

AR11967 continues to stay lively. In less than 24 hours on Jan. 28, it produced 7 M-class solar flares. The largest flare was an M4.9 at 19:00 UT. Here is a video of composite 304, 171 and 193 angstrom SDO/AIA […]
January 28, 2014

It’s Back – AR11944 is back as AR11967

Sunspot group or active region AR11944 that gave us such a show at the beginning of the year is back. After taking its trip around the sun it has rotated onto the Earth facing solar disk and NOAA has labeled it […]
January 27, 2014

Just Shy of an M5 Solar Flare

  22:30 UT – January 27, 2014 – At 22:10 UT a solar flare erupted from the new region coming into view – peaking at an M4.9 rating. NOAA issued an R1 (out of 5) radio blackout meaning possible HF […]
January 7, 2014

X1 Solar Flare, Coronal Wave with Possible Earth-directed CME

UPDATE – 17:59 UT – January 10, 2014 – Though there is still a chance for some geomagnetic effects from the CME it turned out to not be much of an event and we will most likely not see any increased […]
December 20, 2013

The December 2013 Solstice

The December solstice for 2013 begins on Dec. 21st at 17:11 UT. It is called the winter solstice for the Northern Hemisphere and the summer solstice for the Southern Hemisphere. But what is the solstice exactly? There are two solstices […]
November 28, 2013

Comet ISON Q&A

What are your questions? Post them in the comments & I’ll work on getting them getting answered ASAP.
November 19, 2013

Solar Eruption from AR11893 (Updated)

11 UT (11/19/2013) – Sunspot group AR11893 erupted producing a X1 solar flare peaking at 10:26 UT, Nov. 19, 2013. A 10 cm radio burst associated with the solar flare was observed at 10:20 UT. This radio noise is generally […]
November 17, 2013

Comet ISON: Coming to a Sun Near You

Current Status of Comet ISON Updated Nov. 27, 2013 – 10:40 am EST or 15:40 UT Size 1.3 mi in diameter or 2 in diameter km Date and Time of Perihelion  28 November 2013, 18:38 UT (1:38 EST) Distance from […]
November 15, 2013

Coming and Going: Two Weeks of Magnetic Spots and Loops

When sunspots rotate onto the solar disk facing Earth they are identified by their structure in white or visible light. Sunspots are regions of concentrated magnetic field. They are like complicated clusters of bar magnets on their sides. Some are […]
November 2, 2013

A Rare Treat from the Sun, Earth and Moon – A Hybrid Eclipse

There will be a hybrid solar eclipse on Sunday November 3, 2013. This rare occurrence of an annular and total eclipse is the final eclipse event of 2013. Never look at the sun or an eclipse directly!  Eye safety during solar […]
October 30, 2013

A Whole Lot Happening on the Sun – In Many Types of Light

The sun has been really active lately. SDO gives us an amazing view of this activity in many different wavelengths of light. This also shows us the sun’s atmosphere in many temperatures ranging from ~4500 Kelvin or 7600 degrees Fahrenheit […]
October 25, 2013

X Marks the New Spot! (Updated)

The newest active region on the sun has given us an X-flare and a CME! 15:10 UT (10/25/2013) X again! AR11882 kicked it up again with an X2.1 peaking at 15:03 UT. A multi-million degree snapshot with SDO/AIA 94 angstrom. […]
September 30, 2013

Spectacular Erupting Filament with Earth-directed Space Weather

A huge filament erupted from the sun producing a beautiful coronal mass ejection (CME) and solar energetic particle event. Around 21 UT, 9/29/2013 a filament erupted from the northwest quadrant of the sun. It started from the surface with a […]
August 22, 2013

Slow Earth-directed Halo CME

This time a CME is headed directly for us! Around 5:24 UT (1:24 EDT), the SOHO/LASCO C2 instrument caught a first glimpse at a CME leaving the sun directly for Earth. The CME is traveling at a fairly slow ~610 […]
August 20, 2013

Aurora Ahead? – Filament Eruption with an Earth-directed CME

There may be a geomagnetic storm in store for Earth. Lookout aurora watchers! A filament ~50 Earths in length (~400,000 miles) erupted from the Sun’s southern hemisphere in the southwest direction around 7:24 UT (4:24 am EDT). The eruption produced […]
August 19, 2013

SOHO/LASCO C3 Sees a Very Bright Kreutz-group Sungrazing Comet

“One of the brightest Sungrazers we’ve seen in a long time …”, tweeted Karl Battams (@SungrazerComets) of NRL’s Sungrazing Comets Project. Battams estimates the comet to be approximately 30-50 kilometers wide and expects it to reach speeds of at least 500 […]
August 17, 2013

M3.3 Solar Flare and a Coronal Mass Ejection

A long duration M3.3 flare with a beautiful eruption and CME! Active region AR11818 produced a flare peaking in X-ray at 18:24 UT (2:24 pm EDT). The eruption produced extended X-ray emission with another flare, ~M1.5 after the initial eruption […]
May 29, 2013

Giant Hole in the Solar Corona!

Aptly enough, we call these coronal holes. These dark patches in the sun million plus degree corona are areas where the solar atmosphere rapidly streams away from the sun. This stream of particles from the solar atmosphere is called the […]
May 27, 2013

Filament Eruption Sends CME Headed Towards STEREO Ahead and Mars

A filament erupted on the backside of the sun and was observed by the EUVI instrument on the STEREO Ahead spacecraft. The eruption produced a CME detected by STEREO-A COR2, STEREO-B COR2 and SOHO LASCO C3 around 19:24 UT, May […]
May 22, 2013

M5+ Solar Flare from Filament Eruption (Updated)

21:21 UT (5/23/2013) – Proton levels the eruption are still at the S2 NOAA alert level, down from S3. The particles are very apparent in SOHO/LASCO C2, showing up as “snow” on the images. 1:17 UT (5/23/2013) – Currently, a S2 […]
May 17, 2013

CME may impact the Earth and Spitzer 5/19/2013

16:16 UT – NASA SWRC simulations indicate that the leading edge of the CME will reach Spitzer at 2:56 UT 5/19/2013 and Earth at 11:59 UT 5/19/2013 (+- 7 hrs). Roughly estimated expected maximum Kp index is 5-6 (minor to moderate). […]
May 17, 2013

Wiggling Loops from 4 Flares – May 13 – 16, 2013

Wiggly Jiggly Loops by 4 flares from an evolving sunspot AR11748 showed us some exciting yet basically benign activity. A little image processing helps us really see certain aspects of the activity. Keep an eye out for wiggling loops set […]
May 14, 2013

AR11748 Releases Yet Another X Flare – X1.2

The active region that could, has again given us an X flare! That makes 4! 12:15 UT – The NASA GSFC Space Weather Research Center has estimated that the CME may give a glancing blow to Epoxi (~5/18/2013 06:00 UT) and […]
May 13, 2013

Three’s a Charm! Another X Flare!

The unnamed region on the east limb has produced a 3rd X-class flare! (Updated) 11:44 UT – The NASA GSFC Space Weather Research Center has estimated that the CME will merge with CMEs associated with the 2 X-flares (X1.7 and X2.8) and may give a […]
May 13, 2013

The 2nd X-flare for 2013

Larger than the First! – (Update) In less than 24 hours, the active region about to rotate into view has produced another X-class solar flare. 19:15 UT – The NASA GSFC Space Weather Research Center has estimated that the CME  may give […]
May 13, 2013

First X-flare of 2013

A new active region peaking around the edge of the sun released an X-class solar flare At 2:17 UT or 10:17 pm EDT, an active region that has not yet rotated into view produced an X1.7 solar flare on May […]
May 10, 2013

Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) – Year 3

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center heliophysicist C. Alex Young highlights many interesting aspects of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) images and points out several of the single-frame events that appear in it. This video shows those three years of the sun at a pace of two images per day.
May 8, 2013

‘Ring of Fire 2013’ – Annular Solar Eclipse

The first solar eclipse of 2013 is Australia’s 2nd in 6 months Queensland Australia gets another celestial treat after enjoying a total solar eclipse in November 2012. On Friday morning, May 10 (local time Australia), the Moon will travel in […]
April 12, 2013

A Decent Threefer Solar Eruption – Flare, CME and Particle Storm

M6.5 solar flare, Earth-bound CME and a particle storm! AR11719 produced the largest flare of the year, an M6.5, peaking in GOES X-ray at 7:16 UT on April 11. First, we have a snapshot of the flare from the SDO/AIA […]
March 16, 2013

Waiting for a St. Patrick’s Day Aurora

Look at for Aurora tonight and tomorrow at high latitudes! Yesterday’s coronal mass ejection (CME) is expected to sweep past Earth in the last half of today (March 16, 2013) sometime around 18UT (+- 7-8 hours). Forecasts are from minor […]
February 28, 2013

Van Allen Probes Discover a 3rd Radiation Belt around Earth

Learn about this new result in a video by NASA Goddard Heliophysics Division. NASA presented these results at a press conference today. Tomorrow I will be on a Google Hangout with several of my colleagues at NASA Goddard. http://bit.ly/YzL5Mz Ask […]
February 21, 2013

A Spot with Potential

A sunspot region with potential, AR11678! Yes pun intended. This solar active region (AR for short) has emerged suddenly from under the solar photosphere (the visible “surface”) packed with magnetic potential energy and the potential for some significant flaring. It […]
January 24, 2013

Two CMEs Including One Earth Directed

  Two solar filaments lifted off the sun in beautiful eruptions on January 23, 2013. Both eruptions produced coronal mass ejections or CMEs observed with the SOHO LASCO C2 coronagraph at 3:12 UT and 14:12 UT respectively.   The first […]
December 20, 2012

Doomsday 12/21/12: Not from the Sun!

It’s official! The sun cannot bring the end of the world. We are quickly approaching the supposed doomsday, December 21, 2012. As we and many have already said it is “Not Gonna Happen”. Many who have been promoting the doomsday […]
December 18, 2012

The Truth About 2012, Solar Storms and the Fate of The Blue Marble

What is so special about December 21, 2012? Let’s see. It is the 2012 winter equinox for the northern hemisphere. It is 10 days before the end of the calendar year 2012. It is a Friday. But what it is […]
November 12, 2012

Total Solar Eclipse in the South Pacific – November 13/14, 2012

  A total eclipse of the Sun will be visible on November 13/14, 2012 in a narrow path across the southern hemisphere. The Moon’s umbral shadow starts in northern Australia following a path across the South Pacific Ocean without crossing […]
November 10, 2012

Possible CME Glancing Blow on 11/13/2012 at Earth

A C-type CME was detected by STEREO-A COR2 at 5:39 UT on 11/10/2012. The estimated speed is ~900 km/s. Based on preliminary heliospheric modeling carried out at NASA GSFC Space Weather Research Center, it is estimated that the CME may […]
November 9, 2012

A Slow, Faint CME Headed to Earth

A CME is coming our way! A slow (only ~570 km/s  Type-C), faint CME was detected by LASCO and STEREO around 15:24 UT 11/09/2012 and it is heading in the direction of Earth. Computer models indicate that the leading edge […]
November 8, 2012

Two Non-Earthbound CMEs May Impact Mars and Several Spacecraft

Two CMEs (Coronal Mass Ejections) occurred in the early hours of November 8, 2012 (UT), the later one a more significant, O-type CME. The 2 CMEs are denoted with red arrows in this snapshot from the NASA Space Weather Research Center (SWRC) […]
November 7, 2012

Solar Activity Picks Up, Just a Bit

    An M1.7 flare peaked at 02:23 UT, November 8, 2012. This is not really a big flare but everybody’s attention picks up when the activity level reached M-class (mine included). I don’t yet know where the event came […]
October 10, 2012

The Sun Today for October 10, 2012

  Two new active regions could bring solar activity, one numbered (AR11589) and one not yet on the solar disk. Based on recent activity M class flares are possible from both. The region just over the limb produced an M1 […]
July 12, 2012

Earth Bound CME Predicted with X1 Flare Event

Possible Moderate to Severe Geomagnetic Storm Sunspot group, AR11520, produced an X1.4 solar flare, peaking in the NOAA GOES X-ray monitor at 16:52 UT (12:52 EDT). This flash of electromagnetic radiation temporarily altered the upper atmosphere changing its ability to […]
June 30, 2012

Venus Transit Part 2 – A Rare Treat on Earth

Venus transits in front of the sun are rare spectacles when viewed from Earth. It won’t happen again in our lifetime! It is the rarest predictable astronomical event, occurs 4 times every 234 years!
June 29, 2012

Some Moderate Activity for June 28-29

Over the past 24 hours, sunspot group AR11513 has increased in complexity, producing several C-class flares and 2 M-class flares, an M2.4 on June 28 at 16:07 and an M2.2 on June 29 at 9:10 UT . Both AR11513 and […]
May 20, 2012

05.20.12 – “Ring of Fire” Solar Eclipse

During the annular eclipse the Moon will travel in front of the Sun blocking most of its light—except for what looks like a 'Ring of Fire' around the Moon's edge.
May 6, 2012

AR11476 Comes into a Multicolored View

4 M-class Flares and More A new active region (AR11476) has been rotating into view during the beginning of May 2012. It has been producing CMEs and by May 5th it started releasing small M-class flares and lots of C-class […]
April 24, 2012

Aurora over Giant’s Causeway and Ballintoy Harbour, Co. Antrim

Gorgeous aurora captured by Martin McKenna! Last night’s geomagnetic storm (April 24, 2012) put on quite a show and this was not even a large event. This is near the childhood homes of some of our esteemed Irish solar physics colleagues!
April 23, 2012

A Little Flare & Some Geomagnetic Activity – April 23, 2012

At 17:40 UT, the Sun produced a C2 solar flare with a radio burst and a SCORE-C CME.  NASA Goddard Space Weather Center predicts it will reach Earth 4/27/2012 at 5:49 UT with only minor impact. Currently, there is a […]
April 22, 2012

A Prominence Eruption Sends a CME to Mercury

On April 22, 2012, filament material uncurled as an erupting prominence around sunspot group AR11463. There was a C1.8 solar flare and the resulting eruption produced a SCORE-C CME detected by SOHO/LASCO C2 at 15:30 UT.
April 17, 2012

Beautiful Eruptions from the East Limb of the Sun

An eruption of plasma from just behind the solar limb observed by SDO with the 304 Angstrom camera.This shows material at temperatures around 60,000-80,000 Kelvin. This produced a CME that went out the left side (East) of the Sun starting around 2 UT. At ~1000 km/s the CME has a SCORE O (for ordinary). NASA produced a computer model predicting the CME will impact STEREO Behind on 4/17 at 7:40 UT (but not Earth).
March 14, 2012

Unidentified Sun Object is Identified! A Little Black Spot on The Sun Today

On March 12, 2012, Sunsflare posted a video asking if anyone could identify a circular object seen in SDO coronal images. The video was also posted on Facebook with the same question posed. I answered the question on Facebook but […]
March 14, 2012

Comet SWAN Heading for the Sun!

Sungrazing comet seen for the first time with the SOHO/SWAN instrument. It is aptly named Comet SWAN. Ukrainian Amateur astronomer, citizen scientist, and SOHO Comet Hunter Vladimir Bezugly reported a bright blob on images taken by the SWAN instrument on […]
March 14, 2012

It Just Won’t Quit! More from AR11429!

  Sunspot group or active region AR11429 has almost rotated out of view but it still had enough energy to release an M7.9 X-ray solar flare, a fast coronal mass ejection (CME) and a solar energetic particle event (SEP). A […]
March 11, 2012