An odd day in solar science, it's mostly a waiting game

Catainia photosphere image August 31st, 2009 - click for larger image

Cueball: Catania photosphere image August 31st, 2009 - click for larger image

It has been a strange day. Fires have evacuated the Mt. Wilson Observatory in California, and SOHO images have not been updating all day. Power is down at the mountain and the webcam has gone offline. See status here. Mt. Wilson Observatory is now in the hands of nature and CDF. Let’s hope CDF wins.

Webcam view westward, 6:54 p.m. PDT Aug. 31

The only "observer" left at Mount Wilson on Monday afternoon was the automated webcam atop the solar tower. This was its smoky westward view at 6:54 p.m. Pacific time. Still no flames coming over the crests. UCLA Dept. of Physics and Astronomy

It  is about 4 hours now past ooGMT Sept1, 2009 I’ve checked all my sources. Besides the fate of Mt. Wilson, we’ve all been waiting to find out two things:

1- Will we have a spotless calendar month for the sun in August 2009?

2- Do I still have my solar mojo?

The Catania sunspot drawing shows nothing for the 31st.

Catainia Observatory Solar Sketch - click for larger image

Catainia Observatory Solar Sketch - click for larger image

Other solar observatories, Uccle in Beligium, Locarno in Germany, both show nothing on August 31st sketches.

Uccle_last_ORBdrawingLocarno_lastdraw

This animation from SIDC of the past 30+ days shows nothing for August but DOES show group 1025 popping up on 9/1/2009

http://sidc.oma.be/html/cmap_animator.html

I also checked SIDC’s sunspot report data for August, nothing.

It looks like the spot today, group 1025, squeaked by and was not observed until after August 31st game clock ran out at 00 GMT 91/2009

Then I checked NOAA SWPC….

http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/latest/DSD.txt

Message to NOAA Space Weather: Out damned spot!

And wouldn’t you know it, they have something whereas last year it was the other way around…NOAA had nothing, SIDC (via Catania) did…so where does that leave us?

Leif said last year that SIDC had the last word…so unless they change their report, we may indeed have a spotless calendar month.

We’ll have to see what happens when their report comes out tomorrow. They issue a new report on the first of each month.

http://sidc.oma.be/products/ri_hemispheric/

Watch that space.

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95 thoughts on “An odd day in solar science, it's mostly a waiting game

  1. Back at “Testing my solar power” [Frank Perdicaro (11:06:14)] I
    mentioned this might be a problem.
    Last night I spent a few minutes watching the fire on Wilson below SOHO
    burn brightly. My house is 40 miles from Mt. Wilson, and I could see
    the flames through the smoke with my naked eyes. This is a _big_
    fire.

  2. Is 1025 a cycle 23 or a cycle 24 sunspot? Spaceweather says that 1025 seems to be fading away already, but the location isn’t really shown — all that is given is the number 1025 with no small circle to pin down the locatin.

  3. C Colenaty (21:40:48) :
    Is 1025 a cycle 23 or a cycle 24 sunspot?

    At solarcycle24.com it is called a cycle 24 spot.

  4. 1025 may be the smallest speck ever assigned a sunspot number. If it keeps fading, I predict NOAA will rescind the number…

  5. Ray (21:53:16) :
    Did someone just painted this spot there? Spaceweather seem to be the only one showing a sunspeck.
    I think it is not a sunspeck because it has been in the same place for two years. Anyway, SpaceWeather has numbered a new region today, although there are not reports on sunspots, flares, etc.

  6. It is apparently a cycle 24 spot. And for as low a latitude as it is, it means cycle 24 is well under way. I don’t think spots normally show up this close to the equator until well after the cycle has begun. Are we at “solar max” yet?
    (only somewhat sarcastically).

  7. Well, given it’s been September downunder for almost 16 hours, August was certainly a whole month without a sunspot on this side of the International Date Line

  8. Anthony, should it not be Catania instead of Catainia?
    Catania lies in Sicily.
    REPLY: You are correct. Thanks for helping me fix the spelling error. – Anthony

  9. What puzzles me is that this cycle 24 spot is at about 15 degrees North latitude on the sun. That is where you see spots during solar maximum. Are we at solar maximum for cycle 24?

  10. A strange day indeed…the official SOHO NASA site looks to be down from my side of the world, but perhaps we may get some Continuum pics though as spaceweather.com is displaying real time SOHO cut down versions.
    Initial results are showing 1025 wont pass the Layman’s test.
    We are discussing the latitude of 1025 at solarcycle24.com, it probably needs to be confirmed whether that is the case yet…. Leif?

  11. Jean Meeus (22:54:18) :
    Anthony, should it not be Catania instead of Catainia?
    Catania lies in Sicily.
    REPLY: You are correct. Thanks for helping me fix the spelling error. – Anthony

    I pointed that out 2 days ago….must have been missed.

  12. If you care to peruse my blog post on the subject, you’ll find that Anthony has no more paranormal powers than I do. The magnetogram is as blank as blank can be, the STEREO image for the (almost) farside shows nothing.
    So I’m betting on nothing for the forseeable future (the next week or so).

  13. Geoff Sharp (23:11:10) :
    We are discussing the latitude of 1025 at solarcycle24.com, it probably needs to be confirmed whether that is the case yet
    1025 N17E32 169 0010 Bxo 03 02 Beta
    SIDC has August 2009 as 0.0

  14. Leif Svalgaard (02:37:13) :
    Geoff Sharp (23:11:10) :
    We are discussing the latitude of 1025 at solarcycle24.com, it probably needs to be confirmed whether that is the case yet
    —————————-
    1025 N17E32 169 0010 Bxo 03 02 Beta
    SIDC has August 2009 as 0.0

    Thanks, great number for Aug, no weeding to do this month, and the SIDC have the whole month to think about 1025. But what is your opinion of the latitude of 1025, is it closer to the equator than would be considered normal for this stage in the cycle?

  15. When I clicked to enlarge the image I thought I saw a cluster of spots on the West side just above the equator – turns out it was last nights supper.

  16. History does repeat itself. And I’m afraid it doesn’t seem to make NASA the least obliging. NOAA, early in the morning of the 1st of September, announces a sun spot. What gets me is how dismissive they are of the events taking place. Go ahead. Blow it off like its no big deal. Oh, by the way, we had a sunspot interrupt a string of 51 days. No biggie. Its insulting. I looked at the photos regarding the sunspot. Small. Pretty. Brief. Just like their announcement. When the true story, begging to get out, is in opposition to NASA’s stance on solar behavior. Dr. Hathaway has been preaching increased solar activity ever since he took his current position with NASA. His dismissiveness irritates me. Hey ! David ! Why not talk about predicting a longer than usual solar minimum. How about explain why every single prediction, you’ve ever givin, doesn’t even resemble the evidence that’s been presented. Its intolerable. How about something more actual, e.g. “At the suns current pace, a safe estimate of the number of spotless days, should rival thoses of the Maunder Minimum,” (latest, but not likely, press release). It seems our govt. wishes to engage in dialogue only when it benefits ‘their’ agenda. Real science, stands as an orphan before the magistrate, awaiting sentence. -David Alan-

  17. I notice Leif’s daily TSI graph hasn’t been updated recently, although the other graphs have been.

  18. Geoff Sharp (23:11:10) :
    As I posted yesterday on sc24, it was a difficult projection. It’s no fun standing out in the hot sun waiting for the seeing to co-operate. Somebody managed to count it for NOAA.
    Still waiting for any word about the latitude being that far progressed.
    Why does Catania bother posting images magnified beyond it’s resolution?
    Bin it down, bud, or get a bigger hammer.

  19. John A (01:57:48) :
    Maybe an alternate feed from JPL, which was offline but seems to have survived the fire.
    The GONG network is also suffering from a lot of outages.
    It’s probably pulling apart and will go poof today. I saw no signs of growth yesterday.

  20. Brief question: is it known whether sunspots maintain their integrity – visible or on the magnetogram, from one solar revolution to another, and hence whether they spiral in toward lower latitudes? And is it known at what latitude the Carrington event in 1859 occurred?

  21. rbateman (03:54:03) :
    You did a great job catching those specks. It will be interesting to see if 1025 is recognized by SIDC, they have time to think now.
    Still waiting to see if there will be any SOHO images, the website has been down although some of it is fine. They are showing next Continuum contact at 13:50 UTC but we have seen the smaller gif images from MIDI floating around from 18:09 yesterday, lets hope we get a full resolution snap for around the same time. My gut feel is 1025 wont make the grade on our count.

  22. A long solar minimum is still a long minimum even when you get the odd spec/short period mini-spot/whatever. I feel quite confident in saying that the planet Earth does not care about our calendar months, it responds to total input or lack of.

  23. Looks like something happened to the Mt Hood camera. Flames visible in last image, but the time stamp is over 30 minutes ago.

  24. NASA’s dilemma:
    Staying with a number confirms Watt’s infallibility.
    Removing the number lends credence to the sun playing a roll in climate.

  25. Sorry for the repost. I skimmed the last few comments but apparently missed the one with the same information.

  26. Anthony tried to create a dark spot, and instead took out the whole Sun.
    There are some things Man is not meant to meddle with.

  27. Even if at Spaceweather they count imaginary spots to make this non cycle go away, we are still in a major solar minimum that is not about to go away.

  28. SIDC is showing a spotless month. But realy, does it make any difference if there is a tiny spec that lasts fro 8h (or less)?
    PS OT why is there a tiny smily in the bottom left corner of the page.

  29. Keith Minto (22:08:14) :
    Spaceweather seemed very pleased yesterday about the emergence of the ’speck’ and said it was 15 deg. north of the Equator.
    http://www.spaceweather.com/swpod2009/31aug09/Pete-Lawrence2.jpg?PHPSESSID=ra8vjvl4u0porp32sd8nmvc384&PHPSESSID=1menfqr2jrno2u9cmijlm5q3a2
    ……..though now it probably history.
    As I look at this picture, it appears to have “sunlight” hitting it from the right, with a “shaded” region to the left. Now, how can a location ON the sun have a sunlit and a shaded region. Would somebody who understands this stuff please take another look?

  30. Bill P,
    Great view from space. Thanks.
    From that shot you can see that both SOHO at Mt. Wilson and the
    Big Bear lake Solar Observatory are disabled by this one fire. You
    cannot even see Big Bear Lake.
    In addition to Mt. Wilson, the Cogswell Reservoir weather station,
    my introduction to weather station mismanagement, is also threatened
    by this fire.
    Ash on my car this morning from 40+ miles away. Biiiiig fire.

  31. Why do they make a sketch on paper everyday? Im not green or anything, but that seems like an awful waste of paper considering a computer database could handle such things just as easy if not easier.

  32. The oxygen pressure at 5700 ft is about 9.6 kPa compaired to about 13.3 KPa at sea level… it must burn slower up there.

  33. Geoff Sharp (03:16:08) :
    But what is your opinion of the latitude of 1025, is it closer to the equator than would be considered normal for this stage in the cycle?
    ———–
    I told many a long time ago that quite a few debates would happen early on with this cycle because of latitude (Or in the transition phase ). Because the solar magnetic field is not the same as usual, if you can use this term. So we should be seeing sunspot groups showing up closer to the equator. But maybe Leif will disagree.

  34. Cal Smith (06:35:45) :
    NASA’s dilemma:
    Staying with a number confirms Watt’s infallibility.
    Removing the number lends credence to the sun playing a roll in climate.

    Think they will confirm Watt’s Effect, though, as expected by Livingston & Penn, this effect will be decreasing with time.

  35. Not sucessful in projecting the spot this morning.
    Hard numbers appear as 2 SOHO MDI Continuum 1024 x 1024 images emerge:
    Solar disc = 734,417 pixels
    18:09 UT 08/31/2009
    Umbral = 3 pix < 163 Penumbral = 10 pix <=70
    Pen=13.6 x 10E6 uncorrected
    corrected = unc./2 x 1.25 = 8.5 x 10E6
    Umbral = 4.08 x .06 = .245 x 10E6 unc = .15 x 10E6 corrected
    Spot is Penumbral.
    Primary spot was 6 pixels = 5.1 x 10E6 corrected. At threshold of visibility.
    10:24 UT 09/01/2009
    Umbral = 2 pix < 163 Penumbral = 8 pix <=70
    Pen = 10.9 x 10E6 uncorrected
    corrected = unc./2 x 1.15 = 6.26 x 10E6
    Umbral = 2.72 x .06 = .163 x 10E6 unc = .094 x 10E6 corrected
    Spot faded.
    Really, when the numbers are added up, this type of spot, while it can be projected, makes little difference in the level of Solar Activity, which is very low.
    Traditional ramp will eventually come, maybe tomorrow, maybe not in this cycle, who knows….
    but that day is NOT yet today.

  36. Majority of these guys called for a large cycle 24 and are looking bad…
    Only thing to do is to keep focusing on the magnetogram for a heads up and then squint at the visible disc with an itchy trigger finger. Try to redefine a sunspot now while everyone has forgotten what one looks like. Who knows what the count will be at solar max… 300… 500?
    Hardly what would have occured 100 years ago dontcha think?

  37. Almost forgot…
    The warmers want a high count as well. If things chill but the count is high they can refute the sun’s corelation with climate and attribute the cooling trend to a decrease in co2 due to global recession… blah, blah, blah…
    A zero sunspot month makes news and draws public attention to the solar/climate link… that by definition is bad and will make it more difficult for them to ‘save’ the planet.

  38. Bob Shapiro (09:31:30) :
    “As I look at this picture, it appears to have “sunlight” hitting it from the right, with a “shaded” region to the left. Now, how can a location ON the sun have a sunlit and a shaded region. Would somebody who understands this stuff please take another look?”
    It’s your eye trying to make perspective out of incomplete information, Bob. The Sun is, for all intents and purposes, a black body emitter. When you look at the sun the total intensity reaching your eye (or a camera lens) from the center of the image is going to be stronger than the intensity reaching your eye from the limb, with a monotonic decrease in intensity from center to edge. If you look back at the first image of the whole sun at the beginning of this article you will see clearly that the center is brighter than the edges.
    Now, if you mask of a section of the image similar to the section masked off in the image you referred to you will notice that the right side of the mask has a brighter sun and the left side of the mage has a darker sun. This is exactly the way an artist would shade an object if he wanted to use perspective to suggest an image with a light source to the right – so you brain in fact processes the image so that you can draw that conclusion.
    Finally, the structure of the spot on the surface just happens to be aligned in such a way as to reinforce the impression that the sun’s image suggests a light source to the right with shadowing. But it’s all just your brain trying to impose information where that information in incomplete. The image is, after all, a 2-dimensional representation of a much more complex object.
    Hope that helps.

  39. There’s a spot there today all right though yesterday I think it was just a speck with a gleam in its eye. No matter, for all practical purposes it ties the recent times spotless record set last August. The sun is asleep all snug in its bed while visions of sunspots dance in its head.

  40. The spot is not visible to me today. I looked at around 10am PDT, which is 17:00 UT.
    The MDI Cont. of 2009 09 01 – 05:03 UT would be 10:03 pm last night my time.

  41. Geoff Sharp (03:16:08) :
    But what is your opinion of the latitude of 1025, is it closer to the equator than would be considered normal for this stage in the cycle?
    17 North is not unusual for a new cycle spot. It would be more unusual for a lingering SC23 spot.
    Robert Wood (03:51:41) :
    I notice Leif’s daily TSI graph hasn’t been updated recently, although the other graphs have been.
    SORCE had some data problems which have now been corrected [and my graph updated]
    Peter Taylor (04:57:25) :
    is it known at what latitude the Carrington event in 1859 occurred?
    20 degrees North.
    http://adsbit.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-iarticle_query?bibcode=1859MNRAS..20…13C

  42. OK, let me see if this is right. Sunspot activity is related to solar output is related to temperature changes on earth. So, if Anthony mentioning lack of sunspots causes sunspots to appear… therefore we should be able to create a computer model that suggests that Anthony is the cause of global warming. Anthony Global Warming. Hey, thinner arguments are mainstream! 🙂 😛

  43. Hans Verbeek (13:59:33) :
    I figure it owes me.
    Al that observing, digging and measuring stuff.
    All those calculations and figures.
    I should send the bill to Sol Enterprises, PO Box 1, Saggitarius, Milky Way.

  44. Rep. Linda Sanchez: Global warming caused California wildfires
    By Michelle Malkin • September 1, 2009 06:10 PM Yes, it was inevitable:
    Rep. Linda Sanchez, the Democratic congresswoman from California’s 39th Congressional District, appeared on MSNBC’s Sept. 1 “Andrea Mitchell Reports” and did just that. She told the show’s fill-in host Tamron Hall that these wildfires have increased in “magnitude” over the years. And she knew why.
    The fire is caused by the passivity of the conservatives. If we had tax by now, these fires could have been prevented.
    I am glad we have congress people that know what causes fires before they are investigated.

  45. Re:
    rbateman (12:40:46) :
    The spot is not visible to me today. I looked at around 10am PDT, which is 17:00 UT.
    The MDI Cont. of 2009 09 01 – 05:03 UT would be 10:03 pm last night my time.
    How do you “look”?

  46. Layman’s Sunspot Count updated for Aug. http://www.landscheidt.info/?q=node/50
    SOHO came through with the goods and we received decent pictures of 1025. As Robert has pointed out it was a fizzer and barely managed 11 pixels for a few hours.
    SIDC publishes first month of ZERO sunspots this minimum and ignores previous specks counted by NOAA. Will the SIDC ignore 1025 and continue our spotless run?

  47. Frank Perdicaro (09:34:46) :
    From that shot you can see that both SOHO at Mt. Wilson and the
    Big Bear lake Solar Observatory are disabled by this one fire. You
    cannot even see Big Bear Lake.
    In addition to Mt. Wilson, the Cogswell Reservoir weather station,
    my introduction to weather station mismanagement, is also threatened
    by this fire.
    Ash on my car this morning from 40+ miles away. Biiiiig fire.

    I don’t know what I’m looking at without a map overlay. All I know is what I mentioned yesterday on this website: It’s bizarre to see Denver’s air this hazy – and I can smell the smoke of the fires from thousands of miles away. The sun has been orange for days, and going to Back-to-School Night last night it felt like Halloween: a great big, blood-red, three-quarter moon and one very scary World History teacher!

  48. Perhaps Linda Sanchez has it backwards: Ca. fires are causing global warming. Isn’t heat a main product of fire?
    By claiming eternal budget shortfalls, the excuse is ready-made to cut fire suppression (along with every other vital function). When the fires break out and nothing has been done for what Rep. Sanchez knows is going to happen, she blames the other party.
    Far as I can tell, Sacramento has way too many politicians who cannot accept responsibiiity.
    Don’t blame Global Warming for political ineptitude.
    Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Sun sneezed, rolled over to it’s other side in the hammock, and went back to sleep.

  49. Geoff Sharp (18:49:05) :
    Layman’s sunspots. Great work you guys (Robert and Geoff). I does give us a better ‘standard’ to use on a go forward basis (and past for that matter). These microdots that last an hour just seem to be hic-ups on the sun and were not suppose to surface!!

  50. My money’s on the CDF-they’ll give it all they got.-Sometimes with their life,knew a few S-2 drivers in my Airtanker days and many CDF people.Loved working with them…

  51. Lance wrote: “…These microdots that last an hour just seem to be hic-ups on the sun and were not suppose to surface!!”
    Maybe this is all that SC24 can do at its maximum! Every tiny tim should be closely examined for its direction of magnetization and latitude so that when the first SC25 spots start showing up, we won’t be surprised. After all, if we are entering a minimum like the Maunder Minimum, there won’t be these nice periodic peaks and valleys for the next few cycles.

  52. Bill H (22:48:22) :
    SIDC doesn’t give NOAA 1025 a number …
    Only commented on the anomaly….
    http://sidc.oma.be/products/meu/index.php
    SO is the spotless count still running?

    We are in an interesting position. SIDC have all month to think about it, and as they are considered the standard (?) do we stop racking up the days and wait until the end of the month? If so and the result is negative it will be quite a bombshell, something like 82 days spotless if we continue the current trend.

  53. Geoff Sharp (23:02:52) :
    Bill H (22:48:22) :
    SIDC doesn’t give NOAA 1025 a number …
    Only commented on the anomaly….
    http://sidc.oma.be/products/meu/index.php
    SO is the spotless count still running?
    We are in an interesting position. SIDC have all month to think about it, and as they are considered the standard (?) do we stop racking up the days and wait until the end of the month? If so and the result is negative it will be quite a bombshell, something like 82 days spotless if we continue the current trend.
    Well….. IF they fail to count it we have just set a new record TODAY! and then every day we continue spotless…. will they let this fester or will they pop the pimple?

  54. The community in which the Mt Wilson fire started was, prior to the fire, discussing laying off firefighters to save on the budget. Funny that the biggest wildfire in state history should pop up then to save firemens jobs…. almost as if someone set the fire for job security.

  55. The magnetogram of today (Sep 2) is quite interesting. The fading current attempt to a spot is clearly visible and of cycle 24. However at the equator some structures are discernable with the polarity of cycle 23. Perhaps another C23 spot is in the offing? (If so, should we call that an EZ effect ? 🙂 )

  56. Catania manages to count both the 1st and the 2nd of September with a spot that did not last 24 hours, slapping up thier AR report with Day 2.
    DSD.txt shows up with Sept 1 & 2nd.
    SOHO shows nothing but noise in the images for 19:01 UT and 23:03 UT Sept 1st. 03:08 UT Sept 2 is likewise blank.
    This is not the 1st time this sort of thing has come up, and if I recall correctly it’s happened more than once.

  57. rbateman (01:21:18) :
    Catania manages to count both the 1st and the 2nd of September with a spot that did not last 24 hours, slapping up thier AR report with Day 2.
    DSD.txt shows up with Sept 1 & 2nd.
    SOHO shows nothing but noise in the images for 19:01 UT and 23:03 UT Sept 1st. 03:08 UT Sept 2 is likewise blank.
    This is not the 1st time this sort of thing has come up, and if I recall correctly it’s happened more than once.

    Maybe a few of us could send them an email…ask them to explain why they are so different from the other 62 stations?

  58. Geoff Sharp (02:48:36) :
    rbateman (01:21:18) :
    I get spots before my eyes the morning after I’ve drunk too much. Maybe the guys in Catania have been on the old vino?…

  59. Bill H (18:22:39) :
    How has the observatory fared? anyone know?

    Good, so far. They’ve managed to reduce the Station fire enough to give them an edge.
    The webcam went off yesterday afternoon, believed to be due to backfires set to create a firebreak burning up a phone line. The fire dept has made saving the obs a priority now that they can re-allocate fighters. There’s a log of sorts being maintained at http://www.chara.gsu.edu/CHARA/fire.php and Fox has live web coverage going on here: http://media.myfoxla.com/live/

  60. Today the sun is blank and the sunspot number is 12.
    August was blank, no spots see : http://www.solen.info/solar/
    Scroll down, the International Sunspot Number for August 2009 is : 0.0
    The Average solar flux at Earth for August 2009 is 67.3
    Shouldn’t the candidate month of sunspot minimum move to January 2009 now?

  61. Mr. Alex (07:47:33) :
    The Sun was blank when it rose yesterday on the Pacific Coast. It’s been blank ever since then, but today has a SSN value of 12.
    Jimmy Haigh (04:09:45) :
    Maybe they need to go to AAA (Astronomer-Alcoholics Anonymous)??
    Geoff Sharp (02:48:36) :
    Not a bad idea. Who has actually seen Catania?

  62. Geoff Sharp (18:49:05) :
    Layman’s sunspots.
    Why not just run a 200 year repro telescope along side the latest gear, if you can`t see the speck with the repro don`t count it, apples with apples.

  63. What I find strange about the sunspects we saw is that the visible spects were seen before anything on the magnetogram… was it conveniently off line?

  64. I think I see a tiny little plaque in the lower left equatorial region (thus Cycle 23?). Either than or its a stuck pixel.

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