Crash! Boom! Bang!

September 13, 2017

Seen the sun lately? Yes, the moon and sun put on a spectacular show a few weeks ago, creating a total solar eclipse that made millions of people ooh and aah, but have you looked at the sun with your solar eclipse glasses since? No? Well, we hope you haven’t thrown those glasses away just yet because it’s time to whip them out to look for sun spots. Solar flares have caused the appearance of two big spots on the sun.

On Oct. 18, 2014, a sunspot rotated over the left side of the sun, and soon grew to be the largest active region seen in the current solar cycle, which began in 2008. Currently, the sunspot is almost 80,000 miles across — ten Earth’s could be laid across its diameter. By NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Why does this happen? Scientists are still trying to figure that out, but what they do know is that every eleven years or so, the sun goes through a period of putting out a lot of excessive energy. Scientists are collecting more information to find out why, but in the meantime, these bright sunspots are a great phenomenon to check out for yourself!