Sun activity: Week of July 25, 2022

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an animated quarter of a red globe (the sun) with an earth for scale.
Sun activity: a beautiful eruption of solar material off the northwest limb (edge) of the sun, early in the day on July 31, 2022. Image via SDO.

July 31 update: Action on the sun’s edge

We haven’t seen much sun activity this week, on most of the Earth-facing solar disk. But the limb (edge) and far side of the sun are not quiet. There has been some CME activity from the other side observed in our coronagraphs (see tweets below). Most exciting was the eruption on the northwest limb early in the day on July 31, 2022, seen in the animated gif above. It was not directed toward Earth, but it was beautiful nonetheless. Will the action on the sun’s back side continue, as the sun rotates it into our view? We’ll be watching.

The sun, seen as a yellow sphere with dark spots.
Today’s sun activity with the most active regions labeled (3 UTC on August 1, 2022). Original image, without labels, via NASA SDO. Today’s sun is posted by Armando Caussade. Why are east and west on the sun reversed?

July 30 update: More filaments and prominences

Sun activity shows more filaments and prominences. The composite above shows just two prominences, but there have been several all around the solar limb (edge). Despite the sun’s low activity levels, it granted us these beautiful displays. The prominence on the southeast limb occurred today (July 30, 2022) at 00:38 UTC. It came from a sunspot region just appearing and not yet labeled. The prominence on the northwest limb is from a sunspot region that’s already moved out of sight. It exploded on July 29 at 12:39 UTC. LASCO C2 and C3 captured an interesting blast on the northwest limb on July 29, 2022, at 14:12 UTC and 16:06 UTC, respectively. See image below.

July 30, 2022: A big red sphere with flames and prominences all around.
July 30, 2022: This composite of sun activity shows a couple of prominences that occurred at slightly different times. Images via NASA/ SDO.

July 29 update: Here are 2 weeks of flares

Sun activity remains low. But the sun continues to produce low-level flares, mostly B flares. In the last two weeks, only two more powerful M flares have occurred. The still image and animation below both show the last two weeks of flares, filaments and prominences. In the animation, especially, you can see where they exploded day by day and, at the end, a complete map of flare distribution on the solar disk.

Solar disk in gray with white dots and small blotches across it.
Sun activity – flares seen on the solar disk – from July 14 through July 29, 2022. Image via SDFD.
Animation: gray solar disk with small white dots and blotches appearing and disappearing.
An animation showing flares seen on the solar disk from July 14 through July 28, 2022. For practical purposes only the most brilliant flares are included. Looks like some kind of video game, doesn’t it? Image via Raúl Cortés/ SDFD.

A beautiful prominence on the the sun’s southwest limb on July 28, 2022, at 21:42 UTC.

July 28 update: Filaments and prominences rule

Overall, sun activity remains low. But the past day has shown us several beautiful filaments on the sun’s disk and prominences around the limb (edge). See the video below, from Helioviewer, which shows a great looping prominence on the sun’s northwest limb. Also see the animation below, showing a prominence erupting off the southwest limb at 18:07 UTC on July 27. That event came from a sunspot region that had rotated out of view and lasted until 2:08 UTC on July 28.

July 27, 2022: There is a flare coming out the southwest of a bright red sun.
Sun activity yesterday (July 27, 2022). There were beautiful prominences on the sun’s southwest limb (edge). Image via SDO.

July 27 update: SDO’s unique sun views

One of the twice-yearly eclipse seasons for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) started this week. The eclipses happen when Earth passes between the spacecraft and the sun. And we wanted to take the opportunity to show you some of the unique views captured by SDO at various wavelengths, as these eclipses are happening. That’s what you’re seeing in the images above and below. It’s the sun at range of extreme-ultraviolet wavelengths, being partially blotted out by the Earth, as seen from SDO this week. In these images, notice that boundary between each differently colored sun, and the outer edge (limb) of Earth, isn’t sharp. If it was the moon covering the sun (instead of the Earth), the boundary would be sharp because the moon doesn’t have an atmosphere. Earth’s atmosphere causes this “fuzzy” boundary. The amount of fuzziness changes with the wavelength being observed because different wavelengths of light pass through Earth’s atmosphere differently. For more about SDO’s eclipse season, see our July 26 update below.

July 25, 2022: Sun activity collage showing the Earth passing between SDO and the sun. The sun has a different color in every image. The bottom left part of the sun is not visible.
Sun activity for July 27, 2022: A presentation of images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory – taken this week, at various wavelengths – while SDO is observing eclipses of the sun by the Earth. Images via SDO.

July 26 update: SDO sees Earth photobomb the sun

Yesterday (July 25, 2022) was the start of an eclipse season for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The spacecraft’s geosynchronous orbit means that twice a year Earth moves between the spacecraft and the sun. It’s an eclipse, much like the eclipse we on Earth see when the moon moves between us and the sun. SDO’s twice-yearly eclipse season lasts for three weeks. It starts each day around local midnight at the ground station in Las Cruces, New Mexico, time (about 7 UTC). And the eclipses can last up to 72 minutes. Sun activity is very low at the moment. So this daily occurrence, for now, is a nice change of pace.

Half of sun in shadow.
The sun regularly appears to vanish as Earth’s shadow crosses it, as seen from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Today (July 26, 2022) is the 2nd day of SDO’s 3-week eclipse season. It’s of 2 seasons that happen for SDO every year. This image is from SDO, during the past 24 hours. Image 171 angstroms, via NASA/ SDO.

July 25 update: The prominence dance

Today’s top sun news: The image above shows a filament that had rotated to the sun’s limb, or edge, on July 24, 2022. SDO caught it dancing high in the corona. It is many Earths in size. By the way, when a filament reaches the limb (edge), its name changes to prominence. In terms of flares and CMEs, sun activity is still low. But the filaments and prominences across the sun bide their time for their chance to erupt and get in on the fun. If anything exciting happens right now, it will probably be due to one of those massive ropes of solar material and magnetic field.
Last 24 hours: Sun activity remains low, with 2 C class flares. The highest, a C1.8, occurred at 10:24 UTC on July 24. The sun has six labeled active regions.
Next 24 hours: The flare forecast is 55% chance for C flares, 5% for M flares, and 1% for X flares.
Next expected CME: There are no Earth-directed CMEs.
Current geomagnetic activity: Quiet.

Red quarter globe (sun) with dancing prominence and an Earth icon for scale
A prominence many times the size of Earth dancing on the southwest limb on July 24, 2022. Sun activity image via NASA/SDO.

To our readers and community

We invite you all to send us your beautiful recent photos of sunspots and auroras. We love receiving your photos! To those of you who’ve already posted a photo to our community, thank you.

The sun, seen as a large orange sphere with a mottled surface.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Mario Rana in Hampton, Virginia, captured this filtered image on July 30, 2022, and wrote: “Hydrogen-alpha image of the sun. Not much activity except a few active regions.” Thank you, Mario!
Aurora borealis: Green and purple curtains of light with vertical filaments.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Roselyn Mose in Red Deer County, Alberta, Canada, captured this photo of the aurora on July 23, 2022, and wrote “Summer northern lights with the Big Dipper.” Thank you, Roselyn!
Aurora borealis: Green and purple curtains of light with vertical filaments.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Joel Weatherly in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, captured this photo on July 23, 2022, and wrote “We had an excellent aurora borealis display tonight, thanks to the impact of a coronal mass ejection. In this photograph, the auroras were ramping up in activity and presenting brilliant shades of green, pink, and purple.” Thank you, Joel!
Two yellowish spheres side-by-side, representing the sun.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Randall Kayfes in Tucson, Arizona, captured this hydrogen-alpha filtered view of the sun on July 18, 2022, and wrote “Hydrogen-alpha filtered on the left and visible white light filtered on the right – same sun looking through different filters. Check out the beautiful prominence in the hydrogen-alpha photo.” Thank you, Randall!
The sun, seen as a yellowish sphere with labeled dark spots.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Joel Weatherly in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, captured this white-light filtered view of the sun on July 17, 2022, and wrote “The sun is sporting some lovely sunspots today. Hopefully, our recent solar activity will translate into increased solar activity as a coronal mass ejection is forecasted to reach Earth later this week.” Thank you, Joel!
Large, fiery setting sun with buildings in the forground.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Raúl Cortés of Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, captured this setting sun on July 17, 2022, over San Pedro Garza García. Thank you, Raúl!
The sun, seen as a yellow sphere with dark spots.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Steve Wilson in Salina, Kansas, captured this white-light filtered view of the sun on July 17, 2022, and wrote “With all the solar activity today, I got my camera out to start taking pictures of the sun. ISO 800 for 1/1600 second. Can see a lot of sunspot clusters and individual sunspots as well. Very impressed by this.” Thank you, Steve!

Bottom line: Sun activity for the week of July 25, 2022: The sun was mostly quiet, especially considering the action we had seen the week before. By July 31, however, we started seeing activity on the far side of the sun, which might rotate into our view in the coming week.

Why are east and west on the sun reversed?

July 25, 2022

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