2010 12 14 – NOAAs 11131, 11133, 11135

2010 December 14, 1515 UT – 1538 UT Solar NOAAs 11131, 11133, 11135
PCW Memorial Observatory, Zanesville, Ohio USA – Erika Rix
ETX70-AT w/tilt plate, glass WL filter, 21-7mm Zhumell

White light sketch created scopeside with copypaper, charcoal, and #2 pencil.

Temp: -5.4°C, Humidity 64%
Seeing: Wilson 1 with moments of 2, Transparency: 4/6
Scattered 60%, winds 5-9 mph NW, Alt: 22.4, Az: 154.5

Initially, I had planned on doing both H-alpha and white light solar observing this morning. After the rains and the snow, a break in the clouds was very welcomed and just in time for the peak of the Geminids. Unfortunately, I didn’t take advantage of the clear skies during the night, but did get dressed in my coveralls for a solar session today. Just as I was getting ready to set up, more clouds rolled in. It would have made a very discouraging h-alpha session, but very doable for white light. Since the observatory roof was covered in snow (the thought of drifts of snow landing on the lens my Maxscope was enough to make me cringe) and difficult to roll off from the ice, I opted to only drag out the ETX70 for a white light observation. Thanks to my husband, Paul, for his willingness to clean the roof off and attempting to roll it back for me.

I warmed up my disfigured eyepiece cup with my hand so that I could manipulate it back to its original form after packing it away quickly from my last session. The view was like a saw blade, but I had a few moments of steady “enough” skies to make out both the umbrae and penumbrae of the sunspots in 1131 and 1133, as well as the facula around 1131, with a hint of facula around 1133. AR1135 was only visible to me by its facula. AR1134 was elusive and I saw no hints of that active region. AR1131 was appeared flattened as we often see when the sunspots are so close to the limb.

Two days ago, there were three eruptions within a matter of hours. Dec. 13, 2010 Spaceweather.com

TRIPLE ERUPTION: Solar activity surged on Sunday, Dec. 12th, when the sun erupted three times in quick succession, hurling a trio of bright coronal mass ejections (CMEs) into space. Coronagraphs onboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory recorded the action:

Link to the video (9MB gif): SOHO Coronograph Movie 12/12/10

Many might remember the large eruptions from August 1, 2010. In an article from NASA Science News, authored by Dr. Tony Phillips:

“To predict eruptions we can no longer focus on the magnetic fields of isolated active regions,” says Title, “we have to know the surface magnetic field of practically the entire sun.”

“The whole-sun approach could lead to breakthroughs in predicting solar activity,” commented Rodney Viereck of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, CO. “This in turn would provide improved forecasts to our customers such as electric power grid operators and commercial airlines, who could take action to protect their systems and ensure the safety of passengers and crew.”

“We’re still sorting out cause and effect,” says Schrijver. “Was the event one big chain reaction, in which one eruption triggered another–bang, bang, bang–in sequence? Or did everything go off together as a consequence of some greater change in the sun’s global magnetic field?”

So much to learn and thankful to have the new information at our fingertips…

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~ by Erika Rix on December 14, 2010.

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