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RADIO BURSTS: This week's sharp
increase in solar activity has turned the sun into
a radio transmitter. Bursts of shortwave static
are coming from the unstable magnetic canopy of
sunspot 1283. Yesterday in New Mexico, amateur radio
astronomer Thomas Ashcraft recorded some samples
at 21 MHz: listen.
Radio listeners should remain alert for this
kind of solar activity as sunspot 1283 continues
SOLAR ACTIVITY: Sunspot 1283 is
crackling with solar flares. Yesterday, Sept. 6th,
the active region produced an M5.3-class
eruption at 0150 UT followed by a X2.1-class
event at 2220 UT. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory
recorded this extreme UV flash from the X-flare:
The flares produced waves of ionization
in Earth's upper atmosphere, briefly altering the
propagation of low-frequency radio signals around
our planet. Moreover, the two eruptions hurled clouds
of plasma (CMEs) in our direction. CME impacts,
geomagnetic storms and auroras are expected on Sept.
8-10. Stay tuned for updates. Solar
flare alerts: text,
X-flares of Solar Cycle 24:
There have been only a small number of X-flares
since the beginning of new Solar Cycle 24. Here
is a complete list so far: Feb. 15, 2011 (X2), March
9, 2011 (X1), Aug. 9, 2011 (X7), Sept. 6, 2011 (X2).
Before these four, the previous X-flare occured
on Dec.14, 2006, (X1) during old Solar Cycle 23.
SEASON: September is only one week
old and it has already been a good month for Northern
Lights. With the midnight sun doing a late-summer
fade, many Arctic sky watchers are seeing auroras
for the first time in months. Sylvain Serre of Ivujivik,
Canada, photographed this satisfied observer on
"For the first time this season, we had clear
dark skies in the village of Ivujivik in northern
Quebec," says Serre. "The Northern Lights
were very bright, dense and colorful."
As shown in the
gallery, similar displays have been observed
almost every night this month. More auroras are
possible on September 8-10th in response to the
expected arrival of one or two CMEs propelled in
our direction by sunspot 1283. Stay tuned. Aurora
2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2010,