Sun, Jul 15, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Sunspots will be easy to see from Taiwan until Friday

Staff writer, with CNA

Increasing solar activity has recently made it easier to observe sunspots and it should last until Friday when a large group of dark spots will be visible in Taiwan, the Taipei Astronomical Museum said.

The sunspots, coded AR1520, stretch for more than 255,000km, with a surface area 32 times that of the Earth, the museum said.

Originating from strong solar activity that peaks every eight to 14 years, the sunspots appear visible as dark spots because of a lower surface temperature, it said.

“These sunspots are very unstable now, and any turbulence on the sun’s surface would cause an enormous blast,” said Chang Kuei-lan (張桂蘭), assistant researcher at the museum.

Chang said there was a 25 percent chance for the sunspots to produce an X-class solar flare, the highest level of sun storms.

The sun’s intense activity could lead to further eruptions of charged particles that are hurled into space, which could cause disruptions to satellite-based communications, such as cellphones and global positioning systems (GPS), she said.

However, the phenomenon is not likely to affect telecommunication operations in Taiwan, as the nation is located at a low latitude where the impact of sun storms are minor.

Chang said the best times to see sunspots would be early morning and late evening, when there is not too much sunlight.

Sky gazers should use binoculars with solar filters to avoid damaging their eyes, she said.

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