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The Sun in action again!
MARK ARMSTRONG
ASTRONOMY NOW
Posted: 05 March 2012


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The Sun has come to life again after a relatively quiet February with the appearance of the major sunspot AR1429, which emerged over the Sun’s north-east limb on 2 March and launched a X1-class solar flare this morning (5 March at 04.13 UT).

This eruption unleashed a bright coronal mass ejection (CME) into space but this time, unlike the X2-class flare on 27 January that brought about a beautiful display of the aurora to northern parts of the UK, the CME is expected to just miss the Earth. However, aurorae watchers might still be in for a display as this spot earlier released an M2-class flare, producing a CME with a wider path and an expected arrival time of tomorrow morning (6 March 04.30 UT). As the CME is not as violent as the January event then the prospects for a display of the Northern Lights as far south as our shores is not as great, but it’s worth being on alert.


The Sun at around 4pm UT today, as seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. Sunspot 1429 (far left) launched an X-class flare this morning. Image: SDO/NASA.
 

Solar observers are in for a treat in any case, as sunspot AR 1429 is almost four times the size of the Earth and should be visible in solar scopes and on projected images. Astronomy Now would be pleased to receive any sketches or images at gallery2012(at)astronomynow(dot)com.

Keep up to date with events here and at spaceweather.com.

For an explanation of the classification of solar flares visit spaceweather.com/glossary/flareclasses

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