As an avid amateur astronomer, solar observation has been quite boring during 2018. As a shortwave radio enthusiast, the lack of solar activity has impacted that hobby as well.
Well, the catchword of the day is “surprise”!
I was alerted yesterday evening by Spaceweather.com that a large sunspot had emerged and developed into a group – with the two main sunspots’ diameter about as large as the earth.
Credit: Spaceweather.com – Sunspot group AR2720, photographed by Thierry Legault on Aug. 25th from the Saint-Véran/Astroqueyras observatory in the French Alps. An image of Earth has been inserted for scale (Link).
Another overnight email notification from Spaceweather.com stated a “surprise” G-3 Class Geomagnetic storm is underway (now!) caused by a coronal mass ejection.
Credit: Spaceweather.com – According to a NOAA computer model, almost 80 billion watts of power surged through Earth’s auroral oval during today’s geomagnetic storm (This image/forecast is updated every 30-minutes at this link).
Has this “surprise” impacted your radio weekend? I know it has impacted my astronomy weekend … I’ll be out there, soon, setting up my solar telescope to view today’s show in hydrogen-alpha!
Edit: Yes indeed, even excluding the sunspots the solar disc yielded more surface detail today via my H-alpha solar telescope than I’ve seen all year – as well as several nice solar prominences along the limb. I encourage anyone who has the proper telescope AND proper filters to take a look at ‘Ole Sol today (and hopefully for the next several days). I’ll have to check the shortwaves later.
The SWLing Post Blog has recently featured a few posts on “Space Weather” & Geomagnetic Storms. As an amateur astronomer, I receive many daily space-related emails in my INBOX right along with the SWLing Post Daily Digest. I thought this might be of interest:
An unusually wide hole in the sun’s atmosphere is facing Earth and spewing a stream of solar wind toward our planet. Estimated time of arrival: April 9th. Polar geomagnetic unrest and minor G1-class storms are possible when the gaseous material reaches Earth. Visit Spaceweather.com for more information and updates.
Image credit: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
The hole bisects half the solar disk, stretching more than 700,000 km from end to end. This means Earth will be under the influence of the emerging solar wind stream for more than 4 days after it arrives.
A G1-class storm is “Minor”, so I doubt there will be very much “radio” impact – but you gotta admit, a hole that large is interesting nonetheless!
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Per spaceweather.com & NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC):
“A high-speed stream of solar wind is approaching Earth, and NOAA forecasters say there is a 75% chance of polar geomagnetic storms when it arrives during the late hours of Dec. 4th. Periods of moderately-strong G2-class storming on Dec. 4th and 5th could send Northern Lights spilling across the Canadian border into upper-tier US states; affect shortwave radio transmissions at high latitudes; and confuse wildlife that use magnetic cues for navigation.”
The SWPC forecasts G-2 conditions starting at 2100 UT on 04 Dec and lasting through 06 UT on 05 Dec.
Though there is only a 1% chance of this G-2 causing a “radio blackout”, shortwave transmissions at higher latitudes will be affected.