MONSTER SUNSPOT: So you thought Halloween was over? Think again. There is a monster spot on the sun. AR2443 has more than quadrupled in size since it first appeared on Oct. 29th, and it now stretches more than 175,000 km from end to end. Philippe Tosi took this picture of the active region on Nov. 1st from his backyard observatory in Nîmes, France:
The sunspot has more than a dozen dark cores, many of which are as large as terrestrial continents–and a couple as large as Earth itself. These dimensions make it an easy target for backyard solar telecopes.
Of greater interest is the sunspot’s potential for explosive activity. The spotty complex has a ‘beta-gamma’ magnetic field that harbors energy for strong M-class solar flares. Any such explosions will be geoeffective as the sunspot turns squarely toward Earth in the days ahead.