Solar Observations

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 […]
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. The […]
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 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 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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 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) […]
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 […]
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 […]
May 23, 2011

A Prominence Breaks Free (SOHO Pick of the Week – May 20, 2011)

The STEREO (Ahead) spacecraft observed as a photogenic, solar prominence erupted and broke out into space over about 18-hour period (May 13, 2011). Prominences, notoriously unstable structures, are cooler clouds of gas that float above the Sun’s surface, tethered there […]
May 20, 2011

Connecting the Spots (SDO Pick of the Week – May 20, 2011)

An extensive series of arcs, observed in profile, can be seen making a long distance connection between two active regions (Mar. 15-17, 2011). As SDO observed in extreme ultraviolet light, a series of magnetic field lines generated a well-defined pathway […]
December 30, 2010

SOHO’S 2000th Comet Spotted By Student

On December 26, SOHO discovered its 2,000th comet. Drawing on help from citizen scientists around the world, SOHO has become the single greatest comet finder of all time. This is all the more impressive since SOHO was not specifically designed to find […]
December 12, 2010

Epic Solar Filament Eruption from Dec. 6, 2010 Seen by STEREO

A very long solar filament that had been snaking around the Sun erupted (Dec. 6, 2010) with a flourish. STEREO (Behind) caught the action in dramatic detail in extreme ultraviolet light of Helium. It had been almost a million km […]
November 15, 2010

Flashing Flares – SDO Pick of the Week (15 Nov 2010)

A wide and vigorous active region group (AR11121 and AR11123) produced several flares as SDO observed in 171 angstrom extreme ultraviolet light (Nov. 11-12, 2010). The tangle of magnetic field lines, made visible by particles spinning along them, connected and […]
November 8, 2010

Another Lunar Transit of the Sun Seen by SDO

As expected SDO experienced another lunar transit on November 6, 2010. This time the moon crossed the southern hemisphere moving from the south pole towards the northeast (left side) edge of the sun. The transit took about 30 minutes and […]
October 25, 2010

Magnetic Field Lines Galore (SDO Pick of the Week)

The illustration maps the magnetic field lines emanating from the Sun and their interactions superimposed on an extreme ultraviolet image from SDO (Oct. 20, 2010). As one can see, the field lines are most dense around active regions, but they […]
October 18, 2010

A Twisting Solar Prominence (SOHO Pick of the Week)

The STEREO (Ahead) spacecraft caught this tumultuous solar prominence as it twisted and turned over about 18 hours, as seen in profile above the Sun?s surface, before disappearing (Oct. 8, 2010). The cloud of cooler gases, suspended by magnetic forces, […]
October 11, 2010

Increased Auroral Activity Oct. 11-12 from a Halo CME Oct. 6, 2010

Around 3:30 UT on October 6, 2010 a filament erupted in the northeast part of the solar disk (upper left area). Moving at around 375 km/s (850,000 miles per hour) the CME combined with the ambient solar wind then over […]
October 7, 2010

A Solar Eruption as the Earth Blocks SDO’s View of the Sun

A filament erupted in the NE area of the sun. The eruption was observed by SDO and the associated Halo CME was seen by SOHO's C2 and C3 coronagraphs. SDO is currently in eclipse season so during this event the earth moved between SDO and the sun, moving across the sun for a few minutes.
September 22, 2010

3D Visualization of a Coronal Mass Ejection

Our good friends and colleagues at Trinity College Dublin have created a 3D visualization of the propagation of a coronal mass ejection (CME). Using multiscale image processing and 3D visualization the team reconstructed the trajectory of an earth-directed CME observed […]
August 29, 2010

Filament/Prominence Partial Eruption Captured by STEREO Ahead

On August 24th and 25th, the STEREO Ahead spacecraft observed an enormous filament on the southeastern edge of sun expand into a huge prominence. The images were recorded with the Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUVI) in the 304 Angstrom wavelength. The […]
August 8, 2010

The Sun 2 Weeks With SDO/AIA (July 25 – August 7, 2010)

Here is a 2-week view of the sun as observed by the AIA (Atmospheric Imaging Assembly) instrument aboard the SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory) spacecraft. This video contains 4 wavelength channels 304, 171, 193 & 211. First, all four wavelengths are […]
August 4, 2010

THEMIS All-Sky White-light Auroral Camera from August 4, 2010

On Feb. 16, 2006 the NASA-led THEMIS (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions During Substorms) mission was launched. This fleet of 5 spacecraft was tasked with understanding substorms in the magnetosphere, the power source of the aurora and consequence […]
May 9, 2010

3 Tiny Little Flares: Even Tiny Solar Flares on the Sun are Huge

To put this in perspective, “TINY” = 10-20 Earths On May 8, 2010, the sun produced several relatively small solar flares, C and B-class solar flares on the solar flare scale (much like the earthquake Richter scale). In particular, the […]