Published on Mar 18, 2017
BIG CORONAL HOLE TURNS TOWARD EARTH: A hole has opened in the sun's atmosphere, and it is turning toward Earth. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory is tracking the opening, which researchers call a "coronal hole" (CH).
Coronal holes are places--big places--where the sun's magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape. A wide stream of solar wind flowing from this coronal hole is expected to reach our planet on March 23rd. The impact of the solar wind should produce magnetic activity around Earth's poles and could spark the first auroras of northern spring.
Coronal Hole #72 becomes geoeffective after March 21st. High latitude sky watchers may get an aurora show once a high speed solar wind stream arrives.
REALLY BLANK SUN: The sun has been blank (no sunspots) for 12 consecutive days. If today ends without a sunspot, the number will increase to 13, matching the longest stretch of blank suns since April of 2010. This is yet another sign that the sunspot cycle is crashing toward a deep minimum expected in 2019-2020. Is space weather coming to an end? On the contrary, now is when things get interesting: Solar Minimum brings extra cosmic rays, pink auroras, and much more.
Clips, images credit: NASA/SDO, ESA/HUBBLE & ESO