Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mighty flares, few aurorae (yet) - and lots of media confusion

It had to happen, after this long solar minimum: The moment activity picks up - with several M flares and even one with X-class in mid-February - the media go overboard with excitement, science institutions jump on the wagon to tout their related work, and it's up to sober bloggers to put it all into perspective ... Events in reverse oder: • There was an M flare on Feb. 18, and the sunspot groups 1161 and 1162 are causing waves of ionization in our ionosphere and should be watched carefully.

The X-class flare on Feb. 15 (more and more) from AR 1158 was first thought to be capable of causing great effects (like in this report ...), but it didn't happen and predictions remain difficult, as e.g. this analysis points out (earlier) - more coverage here, here, here, here (earlier), here, here, here (earlier), here, here, here, hier and hier. • The M flare on Feb. 13 was covered e.g. here, here and here - and at the time was not the biggest of cycle. • Regarding solar activity also stories on the worldwide CALLISTO network and the role of IBEX as a monitor.

In other news a movie of a lunar flash (more details) recorded on Feb. 11, a pessimistic Elenin analysis (recent observations point to only +6 mag. at max.) and fireballs in Philadelphia (more) and Chicago (more). • Amateur analysis of Haumea and its lightcurve. • And a speculative paper on "a jovian mass solar companion in the Oort cloud" makes headlines (more, more, many more, mehr and mehr), so that eventually NASA had to comment on the (non-)issue ...

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