Giant sunspot region now visible in eclipse glasses

Giant sunspot: Corner of the sun shown in black and white with a large mottled area labeled AR3664.
EarthSky’s own Raúl Cortés captured this close look at the giant sunspot region AR3664 on the sun on May 8, 2024. Thank you, Raúl! Get out your eclipse glasses, because you can use them to see this monster.

Giant sunspot region visible in eclipse glasses

Did you save your eclipse glasses from the April 8 total solar eclipse? If so, it’s time to get them out again! Check to make sure they’re still safe and haven’t cracked or gotten holes while in storage. Do this by putting them on and looking anywhere but at the sun. If all you see is blackness, then they’re safe. Then, look toward the sun to see the monster sunspot region AR3664, currently crossing the Earth-facing side of the sun. This sunspot region has already burst forth X flares, and more may be in the works! In fact, some of the sun-stuff that erupted from this region is making its way toward Earth and may trigger auroras.

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Today’s giant sunspot region and the 1859 Carrington Event reports the size of AR3664 is comparable to the active region that released an enormous flare in 1859, resulting in the Carrington Event. But scientists said the Carrington Event may have been an X80 flare, and so far the biggest flare AR3664 has released was an X2.3 on May 9, 2024.

So what happened during the Carrington Event? As Andy Briggs wrote for EarthSky:

On September 2, 1859, around the world, compasses at sea failed to work, causing some ships to become lost. Telegraph networks experienced disruption, with some telegraph lines catching fire. Tellingly, people as far south as the Caribbean and Mexico saw auroras. Scientists now believe that what happened on that day was an extreme geomagnetic storm.

And what if a Carrington-type event happened today? Andy wrote:

There would almost certainly be widespread burnout of electronic circuits and the failure of power grids … In space, satellites would also fail as their electronics fried.

Read more about the Carrington Event.

Images of AR3664

Are your eclipse glasses ready to go? Here’s what you’ll see. These images of the giant sunspot region are from the last two days.

Yellowish sun with dark mottlings, including one near bottom right with lots of dark blotches.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | David Hawkes in Sheffield, UK, caught the massive sunspot region AR3664 on May 8, 2024. David wrote: “Megaspot AR3664 dominates the sun’s disk.” Thank you, David!
4 panels showing a sunspot region growing in size and complexity.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Meiying Lee in Taipei, Taiwan, captured the evolution of sunspot region AR3664 from May 6 to May 9, 2024. Thank you, Meiying!
Greenish corner of the sun showing a bright white patch as it erupts.
AR3664 bursts forth with an X flare on May 9, 2024. Image via GOES-R spacecraft.

More images of AR3664

The sun, seen as a large white sphere with small dark spots.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Patricio León in Santiago, Chile, captured this filtered image of the sun on May 8, 2024. Patricio wrote: “Giant sunspot AR3664 has grown to epic proportions, about 10 Earths long by 5 Earths wide; as if that were not enough, it also emits X flares!” Thank you, Patricio!
The sun, seen as a large yellow sphere with a mottled surface.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Mario Rana in Hampton, Virginia, captured this hydrogen-alpha filtered image on May 8, 2024. Mario wrote: “This image shows active region AR3664 along with an awesome prominence on the limb!” Thank you, Mario!
The sun, seen as a large yellow sphere with dark spots, each labeled.
This image shows sun activity – with the most active regions labeled – as of 0:00 UTC on May 9, 2024. Original image, without labels, via NASA SDO. Courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams, with labeling by EarthSky. Today’s sun is posted by Armando Caussade. Why are east and west on the sun reversed?

Bottom line: Did you save your eclipse glasses from the April 8 total solar eclipse? If so, get them out and check out this giant sunspot region – AR3664 – now facing Earth!

Read more: EarthSky’s sun news

May 10, 2024

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