When I posted that blog about the Sun back on Tuesday, I knew I was jinxing things. Sure enough, Tuesday afternoon was cloudy here. Wednesday brought more lousy weather, and they're calling for rain tonight. So I was shocked when I saw a brief break in the muck over Boston this morning.Knowing a good sucker hole when I see one, I rushed to my H-alpha solar scope and peered in to see what I had missed since my last observations. Wow! First off, the spots have certainly evolved. But much more impressive than the spots (at least more impressive to me), was the appearance of a dark filament across the Sun's disk. It looked to my eye as if there was a crack on the Sun's surface. A funny idea for sure, but if I didn't know better, I might have been fooled.
My colleague Sean Walker also managed to see the scene from his home in New Hampshire. He stayed home a bit longer than usual this morning to capture the image above. According to his report, I wasn't the only one peering through holes in the clouds.
What do you guys think? Anyone else having as much fun with these spot groups as we are? Share your observations below, and feel free to submit images to the photo gallery.
Oh, and I can't forget to remind everyone to only look at the Sun with a safe solar filter. Us astronomy writers all take a blood oath to include that passage in every solar story we write.
It's so nice to have an active Sun again. Clear skies! (Or at least clearer than mine will be for the next 48 hours.)
P.S. These spots are not the start of the much-awaited next solar cycle. Their magnetic orientation (with south pole leading as the Sun rotates), and their very low latitude, peg them as last gasps of the old Solar Cycle 23. . . even though the first spot of Cycle 24 (at high latitude, with north pole leading) appeared in January. We're still in the minimum-activity period between the old and new solar cycles.