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WILL THERE BE A DECEMBER 22ND? NASA says yes. The space agency is so sure that the world will not end due to a Mayan Apocalypse on Dec. 21, 2012, that they've already produced a video about the day after: Why the World Didn't End Yesterday
MAGNETIC FROTH: None of the spots on the Earthside of the sun is actively flaring. Instead, they are frothing. Sergio Castillo captured the phenomenon on Dec. 19th when he photographed the sun from Inglewood,California:
Castillo used a "Calcium K" (CaK) filter that passes light from singly-ionized calcium in the sun's atmosphere. CaK filters are excellent detectors of magnetic froth--the bubbly, turbulent sea of magnetism that surrounds many large sunspot groups.
"It is amazing to see how much a calcium filter can show you," says Castillo. "Even 'quiet' sunspots look great."
How long will the quiet last? The sun has not produced a major flare in weeks. NOAA forecasters say the trend is unlikely to change today with only a slim 15% chance of M-flares and a 1% chance of X-class flares. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
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SIX MONTHS IN A SODA CAN: "Winter solstice is coming!" says Rijk-Jan Koppejan of the Philippus Lansbergen Observatory in Middelburg, the Netherlands. To celebrate, patrons of the observatory have started opening their solargraphs, which they deployed six months ago to record the motion of the sun. "This image with the typical Dutch windmill was made by the Sengers family," says Koppejan:
A solargraph is a simple pinhole camera made from a soda can lined with a piece of photographic paper. "Last June, the Philippus Lansbergen Observatory invited people to hang up solargraphs around the province of Zeeland," he explains. "They have recorded the daily path of the sun since the summer solstice."
In a typical six-month solargraph exposure, high arcs track the summer sun, middle arcs the autumn sun, and low arcs the winter sun. The only interruptions are due to clouds and rain. "The weather in Middelburg wasn't too bad after all!"
Most of the solargraphs deployed last June will be opened on Friday the 21st, the northern winter solstice. Stay tuned.
6-month Solargraph How-to Guides: #1, #2, #3
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