Sun activity: Glorious auroras from CME direct hit March 13

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Green, partial globe (the sun) with bright area (the flare).
The sun did not stay quiet during the geomagnetic storm over March 13-14, 2022. While auroras danced overhead on Earth, the sunspot region AR2965 blasted out an M2 solar flare. This moderate flare heated up Earth’s atmosphere creating a minor radio blackout over Africa.

Sun news: Mid- to high-latitude auroras

Auroras lit up the skies at mid to high latitudes around the world this weekend. People in the northernmost U.S., Canada, Northern Europe, and southernmost New Zealand and Australia heard the sun news and caught the expected show. The glorious auroral display stemmed from an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME), which blasted away from the large sunspot region AR 2960 on March 10, 2022. Moving at 1.5 million miles per hour (2.4 million km/hr), the cloud of solar particles and magnetic fields reached Earth around 12 UTC on March 13, as predicted by NASA and NOAA models.

The CME began rattling Earth’s magnetic field around that time, creating a geomagnetic storm up to a G2. This is considered a moderate storm on the NOAA scale.

OMG did she dance

Geomagnetic storm lasted into early March 14

Sunspots for March 14, 2022

Sun news: Round yellow globe of sun, with sunspot groups labeled.
An intensitygram or visible light image of the sun from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) HMI instrument. You can see 4 sunspot groups or active regions (AR). The ARs are 2960, 2965, 2967, 2968. Regions are numbered sequentially by space weather forecasters at NOAA/SWPC. Notice that AR 2960 – the large sunspot region that caused this weekend’s direct hit of a CME – is now near the limb (edge) of the sun and about to rotate out of view. Image via NASA/ SDO.

The storm was predicted in advance

NASA CME model for March 10 to 20

Schematic representations of possible CME paths.
Animated gif of the ENLIL model for March 10 to 20, 2022. Earth is the yellow circle on the left image showing the solar system. The left image shows the top-down view. Center image shows the side view at Earth. Right image shows the stretched out view with Earth at the center. Image via NASA.

Check this out: Jupiter near the sun

Concentric blue circles with light radiation out from the center.
As reported by, coronagraphs onboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory recorded the storm cloud leaving the sun on March 10, 2022. The occulting disk in the center hides the bright sun from view. The bright object to the right of the sun in this image is our solar system’s largest planet, Jupiter. This planet recently passed behind the sun as seen from Earth and is due to re-emerge into our eastern sky before dawn soon. See the chart below, and visit EarthSky’s night sky guide.
Chart of Jupiter location in late March, annotated with white text.
Bright Jupiter is due to poke above your eastern horizon shortly before sunrise by late March or early April 2020. It’ll join 3 other planets already in the east before sunup, as seen from around the world. Visit EarthSky’s night sky guide.

Sun news heating up as Solar Cycle 25 progresses

The sun is in the rising part of its 11-year cycle of activity, meaning we can expect more solar activity over the next few years. Recently, the sun reached its 100th sunspot in less than 70 days. Keith Strong reported the increase in solar activity, and shared this table, via Twitter:

Some sun images from the EarthSky community

large dark spot over a bright yellow granulated background.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Michael Teoh at Heng Ee Observatory, Penang, Malaysia, captured this closeup of sunspot AR2960 on March 12, 2022, at 03:51 UTC, and wrote: “Despite a rather cloudless sky, it was hazy.” Thank you, Michael!
Two bright and large, yellow globes representing the sun.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | David Hoskin in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, captured this composite view of the sun on March 11, 2022, at 14:00 UTC, and wrote: “The image on the left was captured using a white light solar filter. It shows the sun’s photosphere. Multiple sunspot groups are visible. The sunspot (AR2965) on the northeast limb of the sun is currently the most active one. The image on the right was captured using a solar telescope that only passes hydrogen alpha wavelength light. It shows the sun’s chromosphere. Sunspots, plage (bright patches surrounding sunspots), filaments and prominences are visible.” Thank you, David!
Yellow sun with large sunspot.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Michael Teoh at Heng Ee Observatory, Penang, Malaysia, captured this image on March 9, 2022. It’s a closeup of that large sunspot region, AR2960, which has now sent a CME our way. He wrote: “Finally, a clear morning to image the large active region AR2960, which is well positioned facing the Earth.” Thank you, Michael!
Golden sun, with sunspots.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Simon Capone in Perth, Western Australia, captured this image on March 6 and wrote: “Full solar disk image in hydrogen alpha – showing several prominences as well as AR2960 – the large sunspot area. The solar disk has been inverted to bring out more detail; therefore, the sunspot appears to be bright instead of dark.” Thank you, Simon!

Bottom line: A CME sideswiped Earth March 10. A second CME, spawned by a flare near sunspot AR2962 on March 10, struck Earth more directly March 13.

Check out this video of an aurora in Alaska that triggered the doorbell camera that Brian Brettschneider shared on Twitter on March 2, 2022.

March 14, 2022

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