"The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean... Recently, we've managed to wade a little way out, and the water seems inviting." - Carl Sagan
Solar activity ramps up as giant sunspot group turns to face Earth
The Sun is finally acting like it’s in solar maximum. Our Sun has emitted dozens of solar flares in since Oct. 23, 2013, with at least six big X-class flares. Just today it blasted out a X1.1 flare at 04:32 UT (11:32 p.m. EST on Nov. 7, 2013). While old Sol had been fairly quiet for the time where it was supposed to be active in its normal 11-year cycle, only recently has activity ramped up with increased flares and sunspots. During 2013, there has been intermittent strong activity (like this and this in May), but the activity since mid-October is really the first extended period of activity.
Speaking of sunspots, a huge group called designated as AR 1890 has turned to face Earth. Thanks to astrophotographer Ron Cottrell for capturing the group today, above. Spaceweather.com reports that this sunspot has a trend of producing very brief flares. The X1-flare today was no exception as it lasted barely a minute. NOAA is forecasting a 60% chance of M-class solar flares and a 20% chance of X-flares on Nov. 8th from this sunspot group.
Image credit: Ron Cottrell