On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

Solar cycle’s biggest sunspot aims toward earth

Share story

It's called sunspot 2192. It's way, way bigger than earth and it's moving around to the earth facing side of the sun. It's also increasingly likely to unleash a massive X-class solar flare in the next few days.

Here's more on giant sunspot 2192, and why the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is watching for a potential massive flare that could trigger a round of northern lights and potential electronic disruptions.

MONSTER SUNSPOT: The biggest sunspot of the current solar cycle is turning toward Earth. This morning when astronomer Karzaman Ahmad of Malaysia's Langkawi Nagtional Observatory looked through the eyepiece of his solar telescope, he declared AR2192 a "monster" and snapped this picture:

1021 sunspot 2192
Monster Sunspot AR2192 Taken by Karzaman Ahmad on October 21, 2014 @ Langkawi Nagtional Observatory, MALAYSIA

This behemoth active region is 125,000 km wide, almost as big as the planet Jupiter. These dimensions make it an easy target for backyard solar telescopes--hence so many pictures in the realtime photo gallery.

A few days ago, AR2192 unleashed an X1-class solar flare. Since then the sunspot has almost doubled in size and developed an increasingly unstable 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field. It would seem to be just a matter of time before another strong explosion occurs. NOAA forecasters estimate at 60% chance of M-class flares and a 20% chance of X-flares on Oct. 21st. Solar flare alerts: textvoice

Here's a wider view of where 2192 sits on the sun, as it moves to the right and more directly faces earth the next few days.

1021 sun
NOAA

If 2092 unleashes another X-class solar flare, it may trigger a round of northern lights that may be visible in much of North America, including Minnesota. The current "auroral oval" sits mostly over the Arctic now, but that may change if a powerful flare is ejected earthward.

1021 aurora-forecast-northern-hemisphere
NOAA

Stay tuned.

Mild October bias continues

This October is like a welcome surprise guest that shows up unexpectedly at the door, and stays longer than you expected. Autumn 2014 is the weather gift that keeps on giving for many Minnesotans.

A weak frontal system passes by Wednesday night into Thursday morning with a shot of showers.

1021 allfcsts_loop_ndfd (1)
NOAA

Our second round of Indian summer is about to kick in as we approach the weekend. Here's NOAA's Global Forecast System model's version of events through next weekend. These numbers may be a bot conservative. I see a real shot at 70 degrees or warmer in the Twin Cities metro area both Friday and Sunday.

Perfect timing?

1021 kky
Weatherspark

The latest trends in the medium range forecast models favor a continued mild bias through the end of October. Last week's hints of an abrupt late October cold snap have been pushed into November. The latest trends for Halloween seem to favor a milder and potentially wetter solution, with shower chances emerging.

1021 16
NOAA/IPS Meteostar

Second annual Minnesota Climate Adaptation Conference Nov. 6

Last year's first annual event was a valuable learning tool for all involved. If you have an interest, or a business that is sensitive to changes in Minnesota's climate, or just want to hear from some of the most knowledgeable experts on Minnesota's changing climate I hope you will attend.

Tickets are still available at the early registration discount fee until Oct. 25. You can register here. See you there.

climate adap banner

Hyatt Regency, Minneapolis, MN

Building Minnesota’s Capacity for Climate Adaptation

The 2014 Conference on Climate Adaptation is designed for local officials, planners, engineers, natural resource practitioners and others who want to know more about climate adaptation strategies. Learn about new plans that have been implemented or tested in various sectors, including human health, local governmental entities, college campuses, resources, recreation, and agriculture. Discover ways in which individual action could impact climate change. Our keynote speakers will provide updates on the increasing number of severe storm events, with continuing discussion in breakout sessions in the morning and afternoon. The registration fee is $95 ($65 for students), which includes lunch, breaks, and parking. Students who wish to register at the student rate should contact Cheryel Konate, either by phone 612-624-7452 or email cheryel@umn.edu. Beginning October 25th the registration fee will increase to $120.