May 29 update: Go Parker Solar Probe!
Today’s top sun news: The 1st spacecraft to “touch” the sun – Parker Solar Probe – is nearing the halfway point in its mission. It’s now on approach for its 12th close sweep past the sun, with 12 more to go. June 1, 2022, is the upcoming close approach (5.7 million miles or 9.2 million km). Its absolute closest approach will come in December 2024, when it’ll sweep within 4 million miles (6.2 million km) of the solar surface at speeds topping 430,000 miles per hour (692,000 km/hr). Follow Parker Solar Probe.
Sun activity as of May 29: Low
Last 24 hours: The sun released two C-class flares. All additional flares were at the B-class level. Not much happening!
Next 24 hours: 25% chance for C flares, a 1% for M flares, and a 1% for X flares.
Next expected CME: None. The CME expected to arrive yesterday has either missed Earth, or is traveling slower than expected.
Current geomagnetic activity: Geomagnetic activity is at unsettled levels, still feeling the influence of fast solar wind from coronal holes. This is lessening after the peak influence gave us yesterday’s G1 geomagnetic storm.
Adios bright active regions! As regions like 13014 rotated off the west limb, the GOES X-ray background can no longer sustain the C level. With 13017 going further behind the limb, it may go down to low B, unless something bright emerges on the disk. pic.twitter.com/b1aiCIyeLj
— Halo CME (@halocme) May 28, 2022
May 28 update: Mild geomagnetic disturbance today
After many days of quiet, mild geomagnetic disturbances have occurred in the last 24 hours. At this writing, they are still ongoing. The Kp index – an indicator of disturbances in Earth’s magnetic field – reached 5. That’s comparable to a G1 geomagnetic storm and suggests a possibility of increased auroras at high latitudes. The disturbance is due to coronal hole effects, coupled with a possible glancing blow from a CME, expected to arrive midday on May 28.
May 27 update: Giant sunspot departs amid prominences
The biggest sunspot of Solar Cycle 25 so far, AR3014, has rotated out of view. Gone, but not forgotten. In two weeks, we’ll see if it comes back for more action. The region departed amongst an array of prominences.
May 26 update: Giant sunspot AR3014 leaving
Sunspot AR3014 – biggest of Solar Cycle 25 so far – is close to the sun’s northwest limb (edge), about to be carried out of sight by sun’s rotation. A grand finale may await us as the sunspot gets closer to the limb. That is, AR3014 became visible among prominences on the sun’s northeast limb (edge), and we expect it to leave the same way.
A week of sun activity: May 19 to 26
A WEEK OF SUN! A four-panel look at SDO 1700, 304, 171, and 193-angstrom wavelengths from May 19 through May 26. Filament eruptions, coronal holes, a few flares of note, and more. ???? pic.twitter.com/HRiEUfcLmC
— Dr. C. Alex Young (@TheSunToday) May 27, 2022
May 25 update: 5 days in a row! Only C class
For the past five days, the sun has produced only C-class flares (“small with few noticeable consequences on Earth”). The latest M-class flare (“can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth’s polar regions and minor radiation storms”) was on May 20, 2022. It was an M3.03 from big player AR3014, now being carried out of sight by the sun’s rotation, on the northwest limb (edge) on the sun.
May 24 update: Newcomer sunspots
A new sunspot region is coming into view, just below the solar equator on the sun’s east limb (edge). Will it be labeled AR3022? We’ll know shortly. This one is in addition to two newcomers that showed up yesterday, sunspot regions AR3020 and AR3021. Yet activity remains at low levels for now. During the last 24 hours, we’ve seen only 5 flares, all at C-class level. Meanwhile, the biggest sunspot of Solar Cycle 25 so far, AR3014, is still the biggest of today’s sunspots. And it’s still shrinking and still moving toward the sun’s west limb (edge).
May 23 update: Calm before a storm?
Sun activity continues to be low, with only small C-class flares over the past 24 hours. The current chance for more flaring is 99% for C-flares, 40% for M, and 5% for X. History tells us that this calm won’t last for long. We are now heading toward the peak of the current 11-year solar cycle, Solar Cycle 25. That peak is known as solar maximum. As the chart below shows, the current sunspot number continues to exceed the predicted number. This indicates that the coming solar maximum – predicted for around 2025 – will be larger than predicted for this 11-year period.
A larger maximum will mean more sunspots, larger sunspots and larger, more frequent solar activity. So the current calm doesn’t mean much. Overall, the sun is telling us it’s just a small calm before the next storm.
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.
Recent sun photos from EarthSky’s community
Bottom line: As of May 29, 2022, sun activity is low, but look out! Parker Solar Probe is on approach for its 12th sweep near the sun … halfway point in its mission! As always, we should get some cool data and images.