Close-up of a solar monster

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July 11 2012 8:27 AM

Close-up of a solar monster

Looking back on it, I should've realized friend of the BABlog and masterful solar photographer Alan Friedman would send me a jaw-dropping picture of the vastly ginormous sunspot cluster AR1520 that I wrote about yesterday.

And of course he did:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death from the Skies!  

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Holy solar retinopathy! [Click to embiggen.]

This huge cluster of spots is just now coming around the edge of the Sun's disk, having formed on the far side where we can't see things directly from Earth. It's showing up just as the also huge Active Region 1515 is moving around to the Sun's other side. Since our star takes about 25 days to spin once, these new spots will be visible for another week at least. They may grow in size, and they'll certainly change shape, and it's a decent bet they'll blow off an interesting magnetic storm or two. AR 1515 sure did, and this cluster may be even bigger. Size isn't a guarantee of activity, but it's correlated.

Like I said yesterday, keep checking SpaceWeather and Universe Today for updates on this monster!

Image credit: Alan Friedman, used by permission.



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