Friday, October 24, 2014

Tonight's Sky for October 24: Monster Sunspot AR2192

Last evening brought a partial solar eclipse, which in itself was a decidedly interesting event even though it was not of the total variety. For anyone looking at eclipse pictures, one thing will be very obvious: a huge dark region near the solar equator. Well, that thing is a giant sunspot formally called AR2192 and it is over 200,000 miles across (Jupiter is 88,000 miles across, Earth is only about 8,000 miles). As for what sunspots are, they are regions of twisted magnetic fields that conspire to lower the surface temperature of the Sun, resulting in the dark appearance. In practical terms, AR2192 poses a threat for X-class flares, which commonly produce Northern Lights here on Earth. Needless to say, stay tuned here as, if the spot erupts, I'll be reporting on it!

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