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CME IMPACT: The first of two CMEs en route to Earth arrived on Nov. 23rd at approximately 2140 UT (4:40 PM EST). A polar geomagnetic storm and auroras are possible tonight. Stay tuned for updates. Aurora alerts: text, voice.
SUNSPOT AR1618--UPDATE: Sunspot AR1618 has experienced some decay during the past 24 hours, but it is still potent. The sunspot's magnetic canopy has a 'beta-gamma-delta' configuration that harbors energy for X-class solar flares. Because of the sunspot's nearly central location on the solar disk, any eruptions today would be Earth-directed. Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
A sunspot, like AR1618, is a vast island of magnetism floating on the surface of the sun. Magnetic fields bubble up from the sun's interior to form the sunspot's dark cores much like a Pacific island forming from the lava of an undersea volcano. Phil Scherrer, a member of the Solar Dynamics Observatory science team at Stanford Unniversity, has prepared an 8-day movie showing the genesis if AR1618:
A companion movie shows the region's magnetic development. In the movie, which Scherrer made using data from SDO's Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI), white denotes positive polarity, black denotes negative. Places with mixed polarities are where the magnetic fields can reconnect and erupt, producing solar flares.
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
WHALE WATCHING UNDER THE NORTHERN LIGHTS: "Today (Nov. 20th) was one of the most amazingly beautiful days that I have ever experienced," reports Norwegian photographer Fredrik Broms. "Here in Kvaløya, outside Tromsø, we said goodbye to the Sun for the year and hello to the period of polar darkness where the sun doesn't rise." The only lights were these:
"Later in the evening, the activities of fishermen could be heard by the fjord. Soon after the first auroras started to play across the sky, a feeding humpback whale passed by only 10 m away from the shore and could be seen in the light from the moon and the auroras that were dancing over the fjord. The blow of more humpback whales could be heard in the distance. This evening will stay deep in my heart forever!"
Another evening like this could be in the offing. A pair of CMEs is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field on Nov. 23rd or 24th, possibly sparking bright auroras around the Arctic Circle. Northern whale watchers, be alert for humpbacks.
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Realtime Eclipse Photo Gallery
Realtime Noctilucent Cloud Photo Gallery
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