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A Bright Side to the Darkness

Dear <<First Name>>,

It has been so long since a decent solar storm hit Earth. What has it been, over a month? So when a familiar coronal hole that brought us to storm levels three months in a row rotated once again into the Earth-strike zone, just about everyone predicted we would be treated to yet another good show. However, this time, the storm is a fizzle. Over the past 24 hours, we've have only managed to reach active conditions for a short while at mid-latitudes. Needless to say, the impact and auroral light shows have been underwhelming.

So why so different this time around? The answer lies in the dark regions. When we compare the coronal hole this time to the last few times it graced the Sun's face, it's clear the dark regions inside the coronal hole are shrinking. The hole is closing. This means the solar wind it sends now isn't as fast as it used to be and it won't last as long. This news may be a bit saddening to aurora photographers, but there is a bright side to the darkness. These small coronal holes have to collapse before the new cycle can emerge. 

So overall, the solar storm this week won't likely live up to predictions. From the impact thus far, the storm is definitely much weaker than in past rotations. This means aurora will remain limited to high latitudes, robbing many of us at lower latitudes the delight of seeing great aurora shows. But while we lament the weakening of these solar storms and watch the dark hearts of these coronal holes diminish, we should remain optimistic. There is a bright side to all of this solar minimum darkness-- and every new Solar Cycle 25 sunspot that emerges is here to light the way.

Fast Wind Storms & Europa Plumes: Solar Storm Forecast 11-21-2019
Space Weather Woman
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