This is a follow up with an image and video released related to the AR1944 solar flare. All images and video credit goes to: NASA/SDO/Goddard
Yesterday's eruption comes with a predicted 60% chance of elevated auroral activity on January 9th. If there is activity, as nearly always, the best view will be at latitudes closer to the poles. In addition to the auroral activity, this particular region of the Sun is still heavily active and is expected to produce additional flares. Current estimates from NOAA put the chance of additional M-Class flares at around 80% and X-Class flares at around 50%. Still very active!
The image below is of the explosion which is denoted by the wispy filament arcs around the central disk that obscures the Sun to provide better visibility of the atmosphere and phenomenon around it.
Below is a video of the flare erupting.
In case anyone hasn't seen the reports on this yet, NASA has reported that a rather large X-class (X1.2) solar flare erupted from the Sun's active region designation 1944 (AR1944) at approximately 1:32 PM EST today (January 7th, 2014).
Based on information that the Space Weather Prediction Center of NOAA (http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/) provided, the burst (which did cause radio interference at a designation of R3) was a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) sending particles directly toward Earth. While this burst is not expected to cause significant outages or interruptions, it is in the X-Class which is the strongest classification so it could provide some action, including aurora.
The CME is expected to impact the Earth's magnetic field beginning sometime on January 9th with possible radio and weak power grid interruptions at high latitudes. Aurora will probably also be visible with this impact. There is not currently detailed information about how far South any effects may be visible but, if you're interested, I suggest keeping an eye on any of the tools and resources in the links section of the site (http://www.collegeastronomy.com/useful-sites/). Especially the last link on the page, for Space Weather Live, which will provide a good graphical representation of the visibility of auroras around the globe.
I'll try to post more updates where pertinent.
We have a great treat coming up tonight marking the winter solstice, December 21st starting at very close to 11:30 PM CST (05:29:17 UT to be exact) the Moon will begin its journey through the Earth’s shadow culminating in a spectacular total lunar eclipse. Visibility will span all of North America and a sizable portion of the Pacific. Totality begins at 1:40 AM CST (07:40:47 UT) on December 22nd and lasting for a whopping 1 hour, 12 minutes and 21 seconds!
Get out your cameras or even just take some time to walk outside if you’re up in the wee hours of the morning to catch this last great astronomical event of 2010!
If you would like more information on this, please visit NASA’s website for eclipses here: NASA Eclipse Web Site
If you need to find out the corresponding times for viewing the eclipse please visit the following site: Time Zone Conversion
One final leap into the great blue yonder. May your ride be as free from bumps and thumps as much as possible (tall order to fill riding on top of some rockets) and may you safely depart and arrive after your mission is complete. I would love to be on the ground to see this one go up, but unfortunately it isn’t something that’s just not in the realm of possibility.
The crew has made it to Kennedy Space Center and if all goes well should launch into space for one final mission aboard the orbiter Discovery on November 1st around 4:40 PM EDT. Be sure to watch on NASATV
Discovery is the most flown orbiter in the fleet and among a massive repertoire of amazing accomplishments includes the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope and the missions to correct the optics and being the orbiter that returned us to space after the Challenger and Columbia disasters.
Space.com has posted a wonderful clip which summarizes Discovery’s career and historic accomplishments (in 3 parts). Give it a watch, the clips are only around 5 minutes each and very informative.
Shuttle Discovery Part 1
Shuttle Discovery Part 2
Shuttle Discovery Part 3