Thar She Blows!

The Sun Wakes Up in Time for Solar Max

Our star goes through these periods of high and low activity in a variety of cycles. One of the cycles lasts 11 years.  When solar activity ramps up in this cycle, it’s called solar maximum — or solar max, for short.  We’re coming up to a period of solar max, and the Sun is obliging us with some tremendously cool-looking outbursts.  Here’s a movie showing the past few days of activity, courtesy of the SOHO satellite.

Just watch for a while and you’ll see a comet fly by, followed by several outbursts, ending with a huge one this morning that is truly spectacular.  Here are a couple of other views of this massive outburst. Sunwatchers are keeping tabs on this outburst — if you have a safe way to observe, check it out!   Not sure how much this will influence aurorae yet, but keep an eye out as the Sun continues its ramp up to solar max.

SOHO EIT 304 -- latest image of the Sun, April 13, 2010.