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14 November 2011

Spotted Sunrize

Solar Cycle 24 is gaining steam with more sunspots, solar flares, and CMEs than we've seen in years. This development is having a visible effect on the solar disk; it's not blank anymore. Today's snapshot from Jett Aguilar of Quezon City, the Philippines, reveals a distinctly spotty sunrise:

"At sunrise this morning, I was finally able to capture the active sun with its face stippled with sunspots," says Aguilar. "Giant sunspot AR1339 was particulary visible."

To take the picture, he used an off-the-shelf Canon 50D digital camera with a Canon EF 100-400 mm lens. Other readers who wish to try this should be careful. Never look at the sun through unfiltered optics even when the solar disk is dimmed by clouds and haze. Focused sunlight can permanently damage your eyes. Instead, point your camera using the LCD screen or, better yet, buy a safe solar telescope. The view is dynamite and it is only going to improve as Solar Cycle 24 approaches maximum in 2012-2013.