SpaceWeather.com says the sunspot AR1476 is “so large, people are noticing it without the aide of a solar telescope.” But Space.com cautions: “Never look at the sun directly with telescopes [without a filter] or the unaided eye.”
While the sunspot region is being called one of the largest in years - as long as 10 Earths and 60,000 miles wide, NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center notes it’s just one-third in area of the large regions of the Halloween Storms in 2003.
NASA reports the Halloween sunspot regions of 2003 produced an outbreak of 17 major flares, affecting not only satellite communications but also Sweden’s electrical grid. Aurora were seen as far south as Florida.
This morning, it released an M4-class flare - in between the most powerful X-class flare category and least powerful C-class category. NOAA says the flare resulted in a minor (R1) radio blackout.
Separately, bursts of solar wind - or coronal mass ejections (from May 7) - from a different sunspot region, AR 1471, may produce “moderate geomagnetic storms” into tonight says SpaceWeather.com. Auroras are possible mainly at high-latitudes (Canada, Alaska, northern Europe).
We will let you know if there are any large flares from the more significant AR1476 as it moves into position facing Earth.