Solar Minimum Surprise!


Hydrogen Alpha image of the SunSKY & TELESCOPE Magazine’s Solar-Terrestrial Dispatch service has issued an Astro Alert regarding a large solar flare that may graze Earth later this week. If it does, it may produce some nice aurora. The region that produced the flare is turning toward Earth now, and may produce additional flares over the next couple of weeks. Read the entire dispatch below.

Image credit: Solar Terrestrial Dispatch

From: owner-sun-earth@SkyandTelescope.com
[mailto:owner-sun-earth@SkyandTelescope.com] On Behalf Of Cary Oler
Sent: Wednesday, December 06, 2006 7:22 PM
To: sun-earth@SkyandTelescope.com
Subject: AstroAlert: A Solar Minimum Surprise – Major Solar Flares

=================================================================
This Is SKY & TELESCOPE’s AstroAlert for Sun-Earth Interactions
=================================================================

A s t r o A l e r t
Sun-Earth Alert

Solar Terrestrial Dispatch
http://www.spacew.com

05 December 2006

MAJOR X-CLASS SOLAR FLARE ALERT

The Sun has produced a solar minimum surprise! At 10:35 UTC on 5
December, a new solar region now beginning to rotate around the eastern
solar limb produced a powerful class X9.0 solar flare. The region in
question appears to be quite large and was relatively quiet until
today’s significant outburst. Such powerful outbursts are not uncommon
for the solar minimum in which we currently reside. Indeed, it is known
that large and potentially volatile sunspots can form at any phase of
the sunspot cycle and are not confined to periods near the peak in the
sunspot activity cycle.

This particular solar event is not expected to produce any
significant effects here at the Earth. But there is a fair chance that
during the next several days, the Earth will be impacted by a weak
flanking portion of the coronal mass ejection that was almost certainly
involved with this eruption.
Additional stronger impacts will certainly be possible during the next
two weeks, particularly if this region maintains a level of volatility.
As a result, people interested in watching for the Aurora Borealis
(“Northern
Lights”) should keep a close eye on conditions during the next two
weeks, just in case this new sunspot complex musters the strength to
produce additional strong coronal mass ejections with a more direct
trajectory towards the Earth.

** End of Astroalert **
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