Subject: huge sunspot is back Sent: Thursday, April 19, 2001 04:50:44 From: email@example.com (Clay Sherrod) For all of our ETX users out there with solar filters (and naked eye observers who have protective filters) the source of the LARGEST SOLAR FLARE in HISTORY is back. That's right.....sunspot # 9393 has returned on the eastern limb (edge) of the solar disk and is still as large as ever. Now it appears to be compacted into one huge group, rather than many individualized spots hovering about one or two very large spots as it was about two weeks ago. In March, 9393 became naked eye for weeks and resulted in the largest solar flare ever recorded, fortunately one that occurred just prior to the sunspot turning away from Earth on the western limb. At its largest on March 28, sunspot 9393 attained a TOTAL AREA that was 14 TIMES THE SIZE OF THE EARTH!! This sunspot also created fantastic northern light (aurora borealis) displays as far south as Southern California, Mexico, the tip of Texas and southern Florida. Many ETX users (the ETX scope is PERFECT for observations of the sun when properly filtered) took excellent film and digital photographs that were published here on the Mighty ETX site. This one from Mike Weasner when the sunspot and its output were still growing shows the huge size of this sunspot relative to the entire near-one-million-mile diameter of the sun.
Observers who are interested in this sunspot, should visit my OBSERVING GUIDE: "Observing the Sun: The Human Star" posted here on this site under the Observing Guide section at www.weasner.com/etx/ref_guides/sun.html for details on proper magnifications, sunspot classification, sunspot counting and identifications of the many features afforded by so large a sunspot group. As the sun rotates just under 30 days, it will take about 14 days from first appearance on the EAST limb for the spot to rotate all the way across the facing disk of the sun toward Earth. That means, not only do you have a two-week window in which to observe the fantastic sunspot and its aurorae, but also that we, on Earth, have a two week period in which we could well be exposed to yet more huge outbursts of solar radiation. Brian Sherrod, an ETX 90 user and avid HAM operator at w5ami in Arkansas, reported such high radio propagation from the last "visit" of the sunspot's energy (high ionization in the Earth's atmosphere) that "skip" allowed him worldwide coverage through the two week period, and could even hear his own broadcasts in "echo mode" as they returned through his transmitter via a trip around the world as he was communicating to receivers only hundreds of miles away! The spot during its last trip also causes considerable satellite and power grid failures (temporary, thank goodness). In New England, several power grid disruptions occurred that knocked out power for several hours each, as did also happen in many Canadian provinces. Likewise, AM broadcasts were reported to be totally masked for several days throughout the world, and short-range communications on all AM bands were likewise masked for periods of time. You are encourage to visit our Sun and report your observations during the next two weeks here on Weasner's Might ETX site. REMEMBER: proper solar filter protection is required, both for your telescope and when viewing naked eye. Although the ancient Chinese astronomers recorded naked eye sunspots for thousands of years by watching the rising and setting of the bright sun through obscuring clouds and haze to block the light.....this is NOT recommended! Clay Sherrod Arkansas Sky Observatory Conway / Petit Jean Mountain Arkansas
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