Sun activity: Sun is calm, for now

December 9, 2022 Sun activity shows gorgeous imagery.
December 9, 2022 sun activity: Our local star is calm today, just shining, striking Earth continuously with a total of 173,000 terawatts (trillions of watts) of solar energy (more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use). Always powerful! Always beautiful! Image via SDO.

Sun activity December 9: Sun is calm, for now

Today’s top news: Sun activity is back to nominal. But there are a few things to notice. The long-lasting prominence on the sun’s southwest limb (edge) – which yesterday was slowly erupting with some plasma falling back to the sun and some flying into space – has now ended. Sunspot region AR3153 is the largest on the sun today, and has a moderately complex beta-gamma configuration, indicating possible activity. But its activity has remained low, with few C flares despite its size and magnetic complexity. No coronal holes are visible on the sun today today. A Kp4 (Kp is an indicator of disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field) geomagnetic disturbance was registered in the past 24 hours. The threshold was reached at 23:10 UTC on December 8, 2022. This was the effect of the last vestiges of high-speed solar wind from a large coronal hole (now decayed).
Last 24 hours:  Sun activity is low. There were six C flares in the past day and six B flares. The largest was a C4.01 flare that just occurred at the closing of this writing at 12 UTC on December 9, 2022. The source is yet to be determined. There are eight labeled sunspot regions on the Earth-facing solar disk today.
Next 24 hours: The forecast is for an 85% chance for C flares, a 20% chance for M flares, and a 1% chance for X flares.
Next expected CME: No Earth-directed CMEs have been observed in the past day (or in recent days).
Current geomagnetic activity: Quiet now. Earth’s geomagnetic field is expected to be quiet to unsettled for the rest of the day today and into December 10, as high-speed solar wind from a coronal hole continues to wane.

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December 9, 2022 Imagery showing sun spot active region AR3153.
December 9, 2022, sun activity shows AR3153 as the largest active region for now. HMI Intensitygram Flattened and HMI Colorized Magnetogram. Image via SDO.
The sun, seen as a yellow sphere with dark spots.
Today’s sun activity with the most active regions labeled (2 UTC on December 10, 2022). 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?

Sun activity December 8: Last night’s geomagnetic storm

The predicted G1 (minor) geomagnetic storm arrived on December 7-8, 2022. The threshold was reached at 13:04 UTC on December 7. Auroral displays were reported in Tromsø and Ny-Alesund in Norway. The large transequatorial coronal hole – producer of the high-speed solar wind that provoked this disturbance – has now decayed, but its effects will continue to arrive at Earth in the coming days. Did you see last night’s auroras? And did you see last night’s Mars occultation (photos here)? Submit your photos of the Earth and sky to EarthSky here.
Last 24 hours: Turning our eyes back to our star, sun activity is low. The long-lasting gorgeous prominence we reported earlier this week – on the southwest limb (edge) of the sun – slowly erupted with some plasma falling back to the sun and some flying into space. The enormous eruption was captured by GOES SUVI. In the past day, we also saw a small eruption happens in the northwest (animation below). There were nine C flares in the past day and five B flares. The largest was a C5.8 flare from AR3157 at 13 UTC on December 7, 2022. There are seven labeled sunspot regions on the Earth-facing solar disk today.

December 8, 2022 Sun activity shows beautiful prominence.
December 8, 2022: A gorgeous floating filament on the southwest limb (edge). This filament has been on going since December 5, 2022. GOES-16 SUVI AIA 304 angstroms. Image via NOAA.

Sun activity December 7: Auroras predicted for tonight

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center forecasts a G1 (minor) geomagnetic storm early December 8, due to high-speed solar wind from the large coronal hole on the sun. The forecast is for 3 UTC to 6 UTC on December 8 (Wednesday evening into Thursday morning in North America). The forecast is for possible auroral displays at latitudes like those in northern U.S. states such as Montana and Michigan. Remember, there’s also a full moon tonight, and bright red Mars will be near (or behind) the moon. And viewing the aurora in moonlight can be challenging. And it can be rewarding! Some great photos will likely be the result. Submit yours to EarthSky. Good luck, everyone!
Last 24 hours: Sun activity has been low in the past day, with only three C flares. The largest, a C1.3, came from AR3153 at 1 UTC on December 7. There are two newcomers on the northeast limb (edge), AR3159 and AR3160. There are seven labeled sunspot regions on the Earth-facing solar disk today.

Sun activity: December 7, 2022 Earth map showing aurora forecast.
Sun activity for December 7, 2022: On this night of Mars’ opposition, December’s full moon and a lunar occultation of Mars … we also have a forecast for possible auroras! A G1 (minor) geomagnetic storm is predicted for 3 UTC to 6 UTC on December 8, 2022 (9 p.m. CST December 7 to 12 a.m. CST December 8.) Image via NOAA SWPC.
 December 7, 2022, Sun activity shows a large coronal hole.
December 7, 2022: Here’s that large transequatorial coronal hole on the sun, the origin of the solar wind expected at Earth tonight. GOES-16 SUVI Composite 195 angstrom. Image via NOAA/ SWPC.
 December 7, 2022 Composite of the sun showing a prominence and sunspot AR3153.
December 7, 2022, sun activity composite photo showing the largest sunspot region of the moment, AR3153, and a long-lasting, beautiful prominence, active since December 5. GOES-16 SUVI AIA 304 Angstroms HMI Intensitygram Flattened. Image via NOAA/ NASA SDO

Sun activity December 6: It’s a sun party

Sun activity is considered low, but things are happening! A long-lasting prominence – seen in the image above – danced on the sun all day yesterday and is still there at this writing (11 UTC on December 6, 2022). This prominence covers most of the sun’s southwest limb (edge). Is this unusual? Not really. Prominences have been known to last for several days, even up to several months! Or they can break apart (erupt) and cause coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Otherwise, on the sun today, there’s flaring in the northern hemisphere, plus erupting filaments and more prominences dancing around the solar limb (edge). See the animation below. And high-speed solar wind from that large equator-spanning coronal hole we’ve observed – which spans the sun’s northern and southern hemispheres – soon will reach Earth, provoking geomagnetic disturbances. G1 (minor) geomagnetic storms are expected by the end of the day on December 7, and for the following day. This may be an alert for aurora chasers. Get ready. Meanwhile, auroras have been reported in Alaska among other places (see the tweet below).
Last 24 hours: The past day has seen C flares only, seven total. And so sun activity is considered low. The largest flare, a C2.0, occurred at 17 UTC on December 6. It came from sunspot region AR3158. Sunspot regions AR3158 and AR3153 share the honor as the main flare producers of the past day. AR3153 is the largest active region on the sun today. There are five labeled sunspot regions on the Earth-facing solar disk.

December 6, 2022 Sun activity prominences southwest limb (edge).
Sun activity December 6, 2022: There are prominences all around the solar disk today, but this one – on the sun’s southwest limb (edge) – got our attention. It spanned almost the whole edge of the quadrant, lasted throughout the day yesterday and is still there today. Image via SDO.
Dec 6, 2022Sun activity shows dancing prominences all around.
December 6, 2022, sun activity: Many dancing prominences today! A lot is going on the sun’s Earth-facing side. This image also shows some flaring and filament eruptions on the solar disk. Image via SDO.

Sun activity December 5: Busy sun today

Sun activity has decreased to low with only C flares. But it’s busy on our star nonetheless! We currently have six numbered sunspot regions on the sun’s Earth-facing side that have produced 10 C flares. And there are at least three solar filaments that, if they erupt, would possibly produce Earth-directed CMEs. Finally, we have a transequatorial (equator-crossing) coronal hole near the central solar disk, whose location will soon be geoeffective, that is, positioned such that its high-speed solar wind will reach Earth in a few days. Now we wait to see if the sun will give us any larger flares, coronal mass ejections (CMEs) or if solar wind reaching Earth will instigate any auroras. Lots of exciting options! What will happen?
Last 24 hours: Sun activity was low over the past 24 hours. There were 10 C flares. The largest was a C9.0 – almost an M flare – from the new sunspot region, AR3158, at 7:04 UTC on December 5. AR3155 and AR3158 were the main flare producers. There are six labeled sunspot regions on the Earth-facing solar disk.
Next 24 hours: The forecast is for an 85% chance for C flares, a 20% chance for M flares, and a 5% chance for X flares.
Next expected CME: No Earth-directed CMEs have been observed in the past day.
Current geomagnetic activity: Quiet now. Conditions are expected to be quiet to unsettled for the rest of December 5 and quiet through December 6. Late on December 7, we could reach active levels with the onset of high-speed solar wind from a coronal hole that is rotating into a more geoeffective position.

Multicolored globe with yellow labels for filaments, red for a coronal hole and white active regions. The colors are green, white, pink and purple.
Sun activity for December 5, 2022: The sun has a busy face with 6 sunspot regions (labeled with white text), 3 filaments (labeled with yellow) and one transequatorial coronal hole (labeled with red). The image is a composite of SDO 304, 171, 193, and 131 angstrom wavelengths. Image via JHelioviewer and 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.

Submit photos here

View community photos here

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 December 9, 2022, and wrote: “Hydrogen-alpha image of the sun featuring numerous active regions including AR3153 and AR3157. Nice prominences too.” Thank you, Mario!
The sun, seen as a sectional orangish sphere with a mottled surface.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Randall Kayfes in Tucson, Arizona, captured this hydrogen-alpha filtered view of the sun on December 6, 2022, and wrote “The image is a little off-axis in order to ensure the western side flares were well placed.” Thank you, Randall!
The sun, seen as a section of a white sphere with small dark spots.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Patricio León in Santiago, Chile, captured this filtered image of the sun on December 4, 2022, and wrote: “Sunspot 3153 is slightly bigger than yesterday. The right (west) component spans about 4.5 x 2.5 Earths and is clearly seen with filtered unaided eye close to the 4 o’clock limb in the morning sun (from latitude 33° south).” Thank you, Patricio!

Bottom line: Sun activity for December 9, 2022: Back to low. A mild geomagnetic storm was registered overnight last night.

December 9, 2022

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