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SPACE WEATHER WOMAN

The Sun's Face in Focus


Dear <<First Name>>,

Although the space weather here at Earth has been a bit on the quiet side this past week, those of us in the know cannot take our eyes off of the Sun. Not only have we had several bright regions grace the Sun's face this past week, but one of them was a sunspot from the upcoming Solar Cycle 25. As the picture above shows, this sunspot (Region 2750) has had the most magnetic complexity of any new cycle sunspot we have seen yet! It even fired off several low-level solar flares before receding beneath the Sun's surface.

What makes this noteworthy is that we have now seen two Cycle 25 sunspots that have been increasingly more active than sunspots from the old cycle. This means Cycle 25 is beginning to take hold. Of course, it will take at least another year for scientists to officially determine the new cycle start date. Scientists use a kind of "solar forensics" to retroactively assign a start date, after the new cycle is already well underway. But we don't need to wait for an official ruling to say that active sunspots like these are clear indicators that Cycle 25 is slowly, but surely, trying to ramp up!

Meanwhile, on November 11, we will have yet another reason for looking sunward. The rare transit of Mercury! In the forecast this week, I go into the details of where and when to catch this celestial event.  As an extra bonus, Mercury's passage will also coincide with some fast solar wind hitting Earth, so field reporters at high latitudes might get to enjoy Mercury's transit by day and an aurora show at night. Even if you aren't a field reporter with a camera or telescope handy, you can still catch the transit of Mercury live online-- for example The Virtual Telescope Project, Space.com, NASA/JPL, and Slooh are all doing live webcasts. Either way, its a good week to keep the Sun's face in focus.

Cheers,
Tamitha
 
Solar Cycle 25 Stirs & Mercury Crosses the Sun | Space Weather News 11.07.2019
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