Giant sunspot could flare up this week
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A giant sunspot, almost 10 times the size of the Earth’s diameter, will likely generate powerful solar storms, with the the first wave of geomagnetic energy expected Wednesday morning.
NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center has issued an alert, with a warming for potential geomagnetic activity continuing the next few days.
The sunspot is located just east of the center of the solar disk and is big enough that hobby astronomers with decent equipment should be able to spot it easily. In the next few days, the spot will be aligned with Earth, so coronal mass ejections would probably generated geomagnetic activity.
The latest burst of activity on the sun comes leading up to a June 5 space weather enterprise forum at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The theme of this years conference is the expected upcoming solar maximum in 2013 and how it could affect you. More info is online at http://www.nswp.gov/swef/swef_2012.html.
Solar activity waxes and wanes on 11-year cycles. After a quiet phase between 2005 and 2010, activity started intensifying in 2006, building toward the next peak.
Most experts expect such outbursts to continue over the next year or so. Solar activity waxes and wanes on an 11-year cycle, and scientists think the current one — known as Solar Cycle 24 — will peak in 2013.
Sunspots are dark patches resulting from areas of concentrated magnetic activity. They sometimes — but not always — erupt into solar flares that send out waves of intense radiation. That can trigger spectacular displays of northern lights and also disrupt electronics, for example communications equipment aboard planes.