Sun activity: After the storm, a calm
Sun activity for March 25, 2023: After the storm, a calm
Today’s top news: Sun activity has been low over the past day (our “day” ends at 11 UTC, and starts at 11 UTC the previous day). But we saw jets and exploding filaments and prominences on the solar disk during the last 24 hours. Take a look at our top animation. Some of those blasts are CME producers, now under analysis to determine any possible Earth-oriented component. Meanwhile, at Earth, we returned to a calm G1 (minor) geomagnetic storm level. Still … wow! The past day featured G4 (severe) geomagnetic storming, 8 on the Kp scale. And there were beautiful auroral displays across the high- to mid-latitudes. We saw reports of auroras witnessed as far south in northern latitudes as Phoenix and Los Angeles in the U.S. Before yesterday, the most recent G4 (severe) storm dates back to September 9, 2017, when G4 and G5 geomagnetic storms occurred. Thanks to all who submitted aurora photos! Look here for a selection of photos from yesterday’s auroral displays. And stay tuned for more sun news.
Last 24 hours: Sun activity has been low during the past day with only C flares, six in total. The largest was a C2.2, which exploded from AR3259 at 13:40 UTC on March 24. There are seven labeled active regions on the Earth side of the sun today. We have a newcomer on the northeast limb (edge) numbered AR3264. And there is an unnumbered region that emerged north of AR3259.
Next 24 hours: The forecast is for a 90% chance for C flares, a 10% chance for M flares, and a 1% chance for X flares.
Next expected CME: No Earth-bound CMEs were detected on available imagery.
Current geomagnetic activity: At the time of this writing (11 UTC on March 25), a Kp 4 (no NOAA scale) is ongoing. We saw a peak of a G1 (minor) geomagnetic storm earlier today. More G1 (minor) peaks are expected during the rest of today, to be continued throughout the day tomorrow, March 26, due to high-speed solar wind from a coronal hole.
Sun activity for March 24, 2023: BAM! Big night for auroras last night!
Sun activity is low. But wow! What a night for auroras last night! We received a surprising G4 (severe) geomagnetic storm. This unexpected storm started yesterday with a G3 (strong) geomagnetic storm at 14:40 UTC on March 23. After that, Earth’s magnetic field was disturbed for more than 21 continuous hours over the past day. It peaked at G4 (severe) at 4:16 UTC on March 24. Here’s the breakdown of what happened:
First G3 (strong) hit at 14:49 UTC on March 23
G2 (moderate) reached at 19:42 UTC on March 23
G3 (strong) reached at 23:54 UTC on March 23
G3 (strong) at 1:55 UTC on March 24
G3 (strong) at 3:44 UTC on March 24
G4 (severe) reached at 4:16 UTC on March 24
G3 (strong) reached at 9:01 UTC on March 24
This G3-G4 geomagnetic disturbance reached northern latitudes as far south as the U.S. states of Colorado and Wyoming, and to Denmark and the Faroe Islands in Europe. It was all due to the effect of the reported co-rotating interaction region, arrival of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from March 20-21, and high-speed coronal wind from a coronal hole. All this combined made a highly disturbed solar wind environment that found its way to hit Earth’s magnetic field. It was surprising not only for its strength, but also for its duration: more than 21 continuous hours so far. And it’s still going!
Last 24 hours: Sun activity has been low during the last 24 hours. We saw seven faint flares over the past day, seven B class and two C class flares. The largest was a C1.7 flare at 6:07 UTC on March 24 from region AR3259. The sun has five numbered active regions today.
Seeing the Northern lights #auroraborealis on a flight from LA to PHX is CRAZY. That’s so far south. ? tonight was wild. pic.twitter.com/s9OuuzyKVb
— Dakota Snider (@dakotasnider) March 24, 2023
This is totally worth freezing my hands for. Captured from 50km north of #Saskatoon about half an hour ago. #northernlights #AuroraBorealis #Aurora @TamithaSkov @TweetAurora @AuroraNotify pic.twitter.com/T12vHc9oVm
— Gunjan Sinha PhD (@gunjansinha2017) March 24, 2023
Sun activity for March 23, 2023: Moderate magnetic storming expected tonight
Sun activity is low today. But on Earth, auroras are ready to rock and roll! NOAA’s forecasters issued an alert for geomagnetic storms G1 (minor) to G2 (moderate) starting at 18 UTC today (March 23, 2023), and extending to 6 UTC on March 24. That means we can expect geomagnetic disturbances in both Europe and the U.S. at northerly latitudes tonight. Northern U.S. states such as Maine and Montana are on the list, and Europe may see auroras as far south as Reykjavik, Oslo, and Stockholm. As we wait for the excitement at Earth, we’re watching that gigantic filament crossing almost the entire northwest quadrant on the sun. And, as there was yesterday, there was another eclipse from space today. But this time it was Earth’s shadow covering the sun from the viewpoint of the NOAA GOES-16 spacecraft (see our image below). Satellites see solar eclipses due to Earth’s shadow more often than it sees eclipses by the moon … because Earth’s shadow is so much bigger than the moon. In fact, a low Earth-orbiting spacecraft, like NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has an Earth-eclipse season lasting a few weeks twice a year.
Last 24 hours: Sun activity is low. We saw 12 C flares over the past day. The largest was a C2.6 flare at 19:57 UTC on March 22 from region AR3259. AR3259 is the lead flare producer. The sun has six numbered active regions. We have a newcomer on the southeast limb (edge) numbered AR3262.
Sun activity for March 22, 2023: A solar eclipse from space
We at EarthSky were watching a giant filament in the sun’s northern hemisphere this morning with NOAA’s GOES-16 SUVI instrument. Oops! What was that? It’s the moon! GOES saw a partial solar eclipse from space. It happened at around 1:29 UTC on March 22. GOES-16 is a powerful weather satellite. It usually looks at western North America (including Alaska and Hawaii). But it has solar observing capabilities, too. That – plus its distance from Earth of 22,000 miles (34,000 km) – let us capture this morning’s special moment. In fact, the sun, Earth, and moon are nearing the special geometry that will allow us on Earth to see an eclipse, too. On April 20, 2023, those in Timor-Leste and Indonesia (West Papua and Papua) and the tip of Australia will experience a hybrid solar eclipse. Parts of the eclipse path on Earth will see an annular eclipse. And parts of the eclipse path on Earth will see a total eclipse.
Last 24 hours: Turning heads back to our sun, sun activity is low today. Eight C flares were observed. The largest was a C4.6 at 13:53 UTC on March 21, from AR3257. The sun has five numbered active regions.
Sun activity for March 21, 2023: Equinoxes and aurora season
Sun activity is low. But the March equinox arrived at 21:24 UTC (4:24 p.m. CDT) yesterday. So it’s aurora season! For over a century, scientists have noted an increase in auroras around the time of the March and September equinoxes. Modern scientists most often describe it as the Russell-McPherron effect, a physical connection between the geometry of Earth’s magnetic field and the magnetic field carried to Earth from the sun by the solar wind. And indeed we’ve had some nice geomagnetic activity over the past week (see image above). And we had auroras last night from Europe to Alaska (see tweets below). Read more about aurora season, and stay tuned for aurora alerts!
Last 24 hours: Sun activity is low, with only nine C flares. The largest flare was a C4.4 at 15:34 UTC on March 20, from an unnumbered active region on the northeast close to AR3258. There are six numbered active regions on the sun.
The auroras danced last night starting around 2:30 am until around 4:30 am! This was the start of the show before things really kicked off! pic.twitter.com/e0cQE2FeyV
— Vincent Ledvina (@Vincent_Ledvina) March 20, 2023
For more details, visit our Sun Glossary
Aurora Borealis that I witnessed in Fairbanks! #AuroraBorealis #northernlights #magical pic.twitter.com/x6ZVhYS49O
— NonVeg Thali (@nonveg_thali) March 21, 2023
Norhtern Lights above Svinoy island ? Faroe Islands
©Andrija Ilic #faroeislands #phototour #landscape #longexposure #nightphotography #auroraborealis #northernlights pic.twitter.com/jkAU2eUEXA
— Andrija Ilic (@IlicImages) March 21, 2023
Sun activity for March 20, 2023: Large coronal hole
Happy equinox! Two coronal holes are in the southern hemisphere. The high-speed solar wind has already started to buffet Earth from the smaller one. The larger one will be in a geoeffective position in a few days. This means that it will soon be in the prime position for its high-speed solar wind to sweep past Earth. High-speed streams of solar wind can rattle the geomagnetic field when it blows past Earth. This can induce geomagnetic storms with enhanced aurora and the larger coronal hole could have a larger impact in a few days. We are also waiting for a glancing blow from a coronal mass ejection (CME) caused by a March 17, 2023, filament eruption. This could boost any geomagnetic activity from the coronal holes giving a better chance for geomagnetic storming and more aurora.
Last 24 hours: Sun activity is moderate. The largest flare was an M1.3 at 2:10 UTC on March 20 from AR3256. There were eight C flares in the past 24 hours. We are waiting for newer regions on the eastern limb (edge) to rotate into view. They may bring increased activity including possible CMEs that could enhance the blowing solar wind. There are five numbered active regions on the sun today.
For more details, visit our Sun Glossary
Sun activity for March 19, 2023: Filament fun
Sun activity is low. But the sun doesn’t know that! Over the past several days, it has been throwing off a flurry of filaments. Two erupted from the southwest limb (edge) over the last half of March 18, 2023. Both events created coronal mass ejections (CMEs), but given their location neither will have a brush with Earth. We mostly think of solar activity in terms of erupting sunspot regions. But, for some excitement, we shouldn’t count out filament eruptions. They’re not usually the fastest of the CME events. But when an erupting filament is over an active region, the action is often kicked up a notch. We will see more of these crazy combos of filaments over active regions as we approach solar maximum, when the sun builds up more magnetic energy that it needs to shed. Stay tuned!
Last 24 hours: Sun activity is low. There were 12 C flares. The largest was a C4.5 at 6:41 UTC from AR3256. There are six numbered active regions on the sun.
The sun in recent days
Images from our community
We invite you all to send us your beautiful recent photos of sunspots and auroras. Naturally, we love receiving your photos! And to those of you who’ve already posted a photo to our community page, thank you.
Bottom line: Sun activity for March 25, 2023: After this week’s powerful geomagnetic storming … a calm in Earth’s magnetic field.