sunspot july 4 2009

Leif Svalgaard has been saying for sometime now that Solar Cycle 24 seems to be getting underway. Seeing sunspot group 1024 today, I'm tending to agree.

The magnetic polarity (seen on the SOHO magnetogram) of the spot group combined with the middle latitude indicates it is a cycle 24 spot.

The most active sunspot of the year so far is emerging in the sun's southern hemisphere: movie. Sunspot 1024 has at least a dozen individual dark cores and it is crackling with B-class solar flares. This morning, amateur astronomer David Tyler caught one of the flares in action from his backyard solar observatory in England:
sunspot 1024
© Dave Tyler
The magnetic polarity of sunspot 1024 identifies it as a member of new Solar Cycle 24. Its rapid emergence on July 3rd and 4th continues the recent (few-month) trend of intensifying new-cycle activity. This sunspot is the best offering yet from the young solar cycle.

I agree. This one looks like a "normal" sunspot. The question now is: how long will it last? Many promising cycle 24 sunspots have fizzed just as quickly as they arrived. Cycle 24 has not yet shown any indications of spot stamina.

In other news, the SOHO satellite has developed a problem with its pointing motor for the high gain antenna.

This is a serious concern, and data outages are already happening due to limited pointing ability. There is a backup spacecraft for SOHO in the pipeline, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, set for a November 2009 launch date. It has recently been shipped to Cape Canaveral. Lets hope the didn't use the US postal service or DHL.