Yesterday, I linked to a picture taken a few days ago by Alan Friedman that showed the sunspots that are currently blowing their lids with flares. He just sent me a new shot, taken yesterday, and... well. It's stunning. Presenting the sunspot cluster Active Region 1302:
Wow. [Click to ensolarnate.]
It's hard to imagine just how enormous this cluster is. So to help, I cropped out the big spot on the left and put the Earth to scale next to it.
So yeah. That's our whole planet.
Sunspots are big.
In fact, these guys are so big I tried to get a picture myself using binoculars, projecting the image onto a white board. Unfortunately, I couldn't get my set up to work well and all the pictures were out of focus. You might want to try it yourself, but be warned: the bright Sun can damage optics, so you might fry your binocs. Also, of course: NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN. Not with your eyes, not through a telescope, not through binoculars. There are ways to do that, but it takes specialized equipment, and it's not worth the risk if you don't know what you're doing. The Stanford Solar Center has some advice about all this.
Anyway, I expect we'll see more activity out of these spots over the next few days. Should be a fun ride.
- Awesome X2-class solar flare caught by SDO
- Scientists see sunspots forming 60,000 km below the Sun’s surface!
- The birth of a sunspot cluster
- Followup: Sunspot group’s loopy magnetism