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Photos of AR3590, biggest sunspot of Solar Cycle 25 so far

AR3590: Yellow surface with very big black areas surrounded by wide orange halo.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Michael Teoh used the Heng Ee Observatory in Penang, Malaysia, to captured the enormous sunspot on February 24, 2024. Thank you, Michael!

Sunspot region AR3590 is one for the record books. We saw it on the sun’s visible face from about February 18 until about March 1-2, when the sun’s rotation carried it out of view. It was big, achieving a size of nearly 9 Earths around February 26. It was the biggest sunspot of Solar Cycle 25 so far. We could see it from Earth with the proper eye protection (eclipse glasses). Between February 21 and 22, it produced three X flares – the strongest category of flare – in less than 24 hours. And one of those was the largest X flare of Solar Cycle 25 so far, an X6.4 flare! Plus, throughout the time it was visible on the Earth-facing side of the sun, it was the lead flare producer. Now AR3590 has departed to the sun’s backside. But the Mars Perseverance rover’s Mastcam-Z is picking it up on the far side of the sun. Farewell, AR3590! Will you survive to show back up on the sun’s Earth-facing side some 10 days or so from now?

During the time AR3590 was visible, the great photographers in EarthSky’s community were busy capturing its image. Thank you to all who contributed to our community page!

AR3590 first days on the sun

Gray sphere with a big irregular dark spot at its top left. There is an image of the Earth close to it for scale.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Patricio León in Santiago, Chile, took this image on February 21, 2024, and wrote: “Big sunspot AR3590 has evolved with growth of the main dark core and arrangement of several minor elements looking like a trailing cometary tail.” Thank you, Patricio!

Getting bigger

Yellow sphere with a big white splotch at the top, labeled AR3590, with an arrow.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Mario Rana from Hampton, Virginia, shared this image on February 25, 2024. It’s a hydrogen-alpha image of the sun. See that bright area at the top? That’s AR3590. Stunning! Thank you, Mario.
Gray sun with 3 labeled boxes, each containing the same large sunspot, showing its evolution over 3 days.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Tom Jones from Rochester, New York, created this wonderful composite image of AR3590. Thank you, Tom!

Farewell AR3590, we will miss you!

Gray surface with a big dark splotch at the top right. There are 4 small ldark spots in a vertical line.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Patricio León from Santiago, Chile, shared this image on February 27, 2024, and wrote: “AR3590 is shortening as it moves progressively away from us, a big dark core separated from the main body at the leading edge.” Thank you, Patricio!
Half right of the sun with a dark area divided in 2 spots, 1 bigger than the other.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | David Hoskin in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, shared this image on February 27, 2024. He wrote: “This hydrogen-alpha filtered image shows giant sunspot group AR3590 as it approaches the northwest limb (edge) of the sun.” Thank you! Do you know why east and west are reversed on the sun?
Gray surface with black splotches. Next to one is a tiny Earth for size comparison.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Patricio León from Santiago, shared this image of AR3590 about to depart from the Earth-facing side of the sun on March 1, 2024. Thank you, Patricio!

Bottom line: Did you get to see epic AR3590? If not, here’s the story of a sunspot that has made history!

March 2, 2024

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