Mon, Nov 07, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Large group of sunspots to be visible this week

PROCEED WITH CARE:The group of sunspots will be visible this week for those with the right gear, but you must use solar filters to avoid eye damage

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff Reporter

People in Taiwan will be able to view the movement of a huge group of sunspots every day before Monday next week, the Taipei Astronomical Museum said, warning that people must take precautions to avoid damaging their eyes.

The museum said the area of the sun covered by the sunspots, which was identified as Active Region 1339 by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, was 33 times the size of the surface area of the Earth on Friday, the largest sunspot group recorded since January 2005.

The museum said in a statement that the sunspot group had a complicated magnetic structure and had generated several strong flares since they first appeared, adding that those residing in high-latitude areas would be able to spot the flares as well.

Those keen on observing the sunspots must install solar filters on their binoculars to avoid damaging their eyes, the museum said, adding that those who do not have such equipment can view them through the facilities provided by the museum, which are available for use between 10am and 12pm and between 2pm and 4pm from Tuesday to Sunday.

The museum added that the asteroid 2005 YU55 will be closest to Earth tomorrow and Wednesday. Those interested in tracking the path of the asteroid can do so by watching it through a telescope or by using long--exposure photography, it said.

The asteroid has a diameter of approximately 400m, it said.

The museum dismissed rumors that the asteroid would crash into Earth and lead to end of the world.

“The chance of such asteroids crashing into the Earth are below one in 10,000,” said Chang Kuei-lan (張桂蘭), an assistant researcher at the museum.

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