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Try Out Your Eclipse Glasses on This Big Sunspot

A rapidly growing sunspot that rotated around the Sun's limb several days ago has now expanded to about 78,000 miles (125,000 km) across, only 10,000 miles shy of Jupiter's girth. It was easy to see with the naked eye as a small, dark...

A rapidly growing sunspot that rotated around the Sun's limb several days ago has now expanded to about 78,000 miles (125,000 km) across, only 10,000 miles shy of Jupiter's girth. It was easy to see with the naked eye as a small, dark imperfection on the sun's otherwise spotless face through my #14 welder's glass today. Sorta like a fly on a window.

   If you've already purchased a set of safe eclipse glasses in preparation for the August eclipse, don them and take a look for yourself. Yes, the sunspot's that big! If you don't have eclipse glasses or a filter, click here . Remember that any filter you might use for an eclipse works every day of the year for solar viewing. I alternate between glasses and a #14 welder's filter, another safe alternative. Region 2665 is one of the largest of the year so far; the only one similar in size appeared in late March. Given that we're now heading toward the minimum of the sunspot cycle, be sure to take advantage of this opportunity to safely view a huge sunspot. As always, NEVER look directly at the sun without an appropriate filter.

Through my filtered 3-inch refracting telescope, region 2665 was a stunner this morning. The large leader spot displayed an eye-catching black core called an umbra trailed by about a dozen tiny, black spots and a couple medium-sized ones. The group has cracked off a bunch of flares the past two days and has a messy magnetic field, so more fireworks are expected. Should 2665 continue to sputter with flares as it passes near the center of the sun's disk a couple days from now, we might expect some northern lights by week's end.

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I couldn't resist photographing the moonrise last night; the temporary haze from Canadian forest fires gave the moon some extra color at the same time dimming its light. Tonight, the moon will still appear nearly full as it continues to move east and rise later.

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