Plasma Rain on the Sun
2011-01-20 0:00


Plasma Rain: A sheet of plasma more than 350,000 km wide is rising and falling along the sun's southwestern limb today. It's so big, it makes an easy target for backyard observatories. Amateur astronomer Michael Buxton sends this time lapse movie from Ocean Beach, California:

"I made the movie at 1 minute intervals from 1753-1934 UT on Jan. 18th," he explains. "It was a real jaw dropper. Even in my small telescope (a 4-inch Takahashi refractor with a H-alpha solar filter) you could clearly see blobs of plasma falling to the stellar surface."

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The rainstorm is over. A prominence that was raining plasma onto the sun's southwestern limb yesterday erupted during the early hours of Jan. 20th. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the action:

The prominence hurled part of itself into space, but the resulted plasma cloud was not directed toward Earth. This eruption was merely photogenic, not geoeffective. Now attention turns to the sun's northwestern limb where another eruption is in progress. Stay tuned,


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