DR. SKY BLOG

Hot news: Solar Cycle 25 is ramping up the sky show in 2023

Jan 18, 2023, 2:00 PM
This split image shows the difference between an active sun during solar maximum (on the left, capt...
This split image shows the difference between an active sun during solar maximum (on the left, captured in April 2014) and a quiet sun during solar minimum (on the right, captured in December 2019. (NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory Photo)
(on the right, captured in December 2019. (NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory Photo)

The sun is now in the process of showing us its real power!

The long-awaited sunspot cycle 25 is now producing many massive sunspot groups and many solar flares and (CME) coronal mass ejections from the upper atmosphere of our nearest star.

We know that the sun produces high and low activity every 11 years on average, but the real solar cycle may be much longer than that.

Here is some additional information on just what a solar cycle is and what we need to know.

Sunspots are cooler regions on the solar surface known as the photosphere. These magnetic “holes” in the sun are surrounded by very powerful magnetic fields in the plasma state which exists in the photosphere.

When these complex magnetic fields twist and bend they can “snap” and send our various types of energy packets. The most familiar one is the classic solar flare. The flare is a white light event which sends out powerful energy which can reach the Earth in as little as 8 minutes or so.

Other solar events are the coronal mass ejections, which send powerful energy into and above the solar corona. These events can reach the Earth is a time period of some 10 to 15 hours.

All of this powerful energy from the sun is not a good thing when it strikes the polar regions of Earth or gets embedded deep into the Earth’s magnetic fields too.

Here is more detailed information on solar flares.

Here is more detailed information on coronal mass ejections.

Over the past few weeks, Solar Cycle 25 has been on the increase with some nine major sunspot groups on the visible disk of the sun.

Here is the image of the sun Jan. 16.

Notice sunspot group AR 3190 – the main core of this sunspot is four times the diameter of Earth.

What can we expect from the remainder of Solar Cycle 25 in the next year or two? The peak of this cycle may occur earlier and with more activity than was predicted in earlier forecasts.

Details on solar cycle 25.

For those of you with telescopes and high-resolution camera systems, here and here are tips on observing the sun in a safe manner.

For those of you who want to view solar eclipses, we have some details on both the Oct. 14 annular solar eclipse and the big event, the total solar eclipse April 8, 2024.

These are two major events that you should prepare for now.

There is much to learn about the sun and the effects that come from solar activity and the damage it can do to our power grid and digital world in which we live.

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday at 3 a.m.

Podcasts are available here.

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Hot news: Solar Cycle 25 is ramping up the sky show in 2023