Looking at this image of the sun from solisHE you can see significant sunspots poised to create CMEs,, and solar flares at any moment. While there have been some storms and space weather recently it looks much worse than it is. There are currently multiple large storms on the surface of the sun that quite frankly make for the scarist looking sun that we have seen in some time. Thus far this year there have been zero days without subspots. With the year almost over we can compare that to 2011 with only two, 2010 with 51 and 2009 had 260. Hopefully the suns bark remains worse than it’s bite as we get past this phase of solar activity and there are no major earth directed flares. If you were to judge it by looking at this image you might be a little worried. NOAA does not predict any geoeffective flares for at least the next few days. [adrotate banner="1"]
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A CME cloud is heading for Earth from Sunspot AR1532. The forecast track prepared by analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab shows the CME will reach our planet on July 31st at 1500 UT (+/- 7 hours). Weak to moderate geomagnetic storms are possible when the cloud arrives. Sunspot AR1532 is still active producing M-class solar flares. The latest M6-class eruption on July 28th (2056 UT), produced a bright flash of extreme ultraviolet radiation. [adrotate banner="1"] Video of CME NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on July 29-30 due to a high-speed solar wind stream hittingg Earth’s magnetic field. A stronger storm may occur on July 31st when a CME associated with yesterday’s M6-flare arrives. Sky watchers should be alert for auroras for the next three nights [adrotate banner="1"] SUMMARY: X-ray Event exceeded M5 Begin Time: 2012 Jul 28 2044 UTC Maximum Time: 2012 Jul 28 2056 UTC End Time: 2012 Jul 28 2104 UTC X-ray Class: M6.1 Optical Class: 2n Location: S25E54 NOAA Scale: R2 – Moderate
Sunspot 1520 may have turned away from earth but it is still very active. On July 23rd it erupted a CME that sent matter speeding away from the sun at 7.6 million miles per hour (3400 km/sec). This is a very rare occurance that happens only once or twice a decade. You may remember that AR1520 was very active when it was pointed at earth earier this month. This event is not geoeffective due to the fact it was not directed at earth. If it had been we would have seen some real fireworks and the storms it would have caused would have been significant. While spectacular this particular event will miss all of the solar systems inner planets which is actually good news for missions like the Mars Science Lab Courosity rover. [adrotate banner="1"]