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Equinox Sunspots!

sunspot1026

NEW SUNSPOTS: In a year when the sun has been utterly blank 80% of the time, the sudden emergence of two large sunspots in a single day is a noteworthy event. Today is such a day.  NASA satellites and amateur astronomers are monitoring a pair of growing sunspots, both apparently members of long-overdue Solar Cycle 24.   The emergence of these active regions is not enough to end the deepest solar minimum in nearly a hundred years, but they do represent a significant uptick in solar activity.

SUNSPOT UPDATE: A second sunspot is emerging to join the one reported below: SOHO image. This is the first time in more than a year that two relatively-large sunspots have shared the Earth-facing side of the sun.

SUNSPOT 1026: One sunspot is not enough to end the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century, but you’ve got to start somewhere. “Finally, a new sunspot!” says Paul Maxson who sends this picture from his observatory in Surprise, Arizona:

Sunspot 1026 emerged yesterday to break a string of 19 consecutive spotless days. It’s about as wide as Earth, which makes it an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has measured the spot’s magnetic polarity and identified it as a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Could this be a harbinger of more to come? (Apparently so.) Stay tuned.

More images: from Pete Lawrence of Selsey, West Sussex, UK; from Michał Nyklewicz of Poland; from Athanasios Georgiou of Filyro, Greece; from Jan Koeman of Kloetinge, The Netherlands; from Peter Paice of Belfast, Northern Ireland; from Emiel Veldhuis of Zwolle, the Netherlands; from Alan Friedman of Buffalo, NY; from Eva Vidovic of Stojnci, Slovenia; from A.Cote, W. Frame and John Stetson of South Portland, Maine.

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