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SOLAR 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. Tuesday 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 to seethe.
STRONG FLARE ACTIVITY CONTINUES: On Sept. 8th at 1546 UT, sunspot 1283 unleashed an M6-class solar flare. This continues the active region's 3-day trend of daily powerful eruptions. Yesterday's blast, an X1.8-class event, produced a bright flash of extreme UV radiation and hurled an inky-dark plume of plasma into space. Click to view the movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:
Since Sept. 6th, sunspot 1283 has propelled at least three CMEs in the general direction of Earth. Glancing blows from the incoming clouds will commence sometime on Sept. 9th and continue through Sept. 11th, possibly sparking minor geomagnetic storms. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
X-flares of Solar Cycle 24: There have been only a handful of X-flares since the beginning of new Solar Cycle 24. Here is a complete list so far, all in 2011: Feb. 15 (X2), March 9 (X1), Aug. 9 (X7), Sept. 6 (X2), Sept. 7 (X2). Before these five, the previous X-flare occured on Dec.14, 2006, (X1) during old Solar Cycle 23.
AURORA 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 Sept. 3rd:
"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 9th -11th in response to the expected arrival of three CMEs propelled in our direction by sunspot 1283. Stay tuned. Aurora alerts: text, voice.
September 2011 Aurora Gallery
[previous Septembers: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004]