Tue, Jan 15, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Sunspot group to be seen

by Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Sunspot predictions are shown on a chart released by the Taipei Astronomical Museum yesterday.

Photo: CNA, courtesy of the Taipei Astronomical Museum

The Taipei Astronomical Museum yesterday said the US National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) numbered sunspot group AR 1654 can be seen with the naked eye at sunrise or sunset before Sunday.

The sunspot is now rotating west into direct view from Earth and is expected to be visible with an average amateur telescope or camera before Sunday, the museum said, adding that it might even be visible to the naked eye when the sunlight is less glaring at dawn or dusk.

However, it also said that people who are interested in observing the phenomenon should not look straight at the sun or through telescopes without a specialized solar filter.

It said NOAA’s latest observation of this large sunspot group yesterday showed that it was about 22 times the total area surface size of the Earth.

A solar magnetic activity cycle ranges between about eight and 14 years, and the sun is now in the fourth year of its 24th solar cycle, the museum said, adding that physicists expect the next peak of activity to be in the fall of this year.

Although sunspot groups are often seen before or after the peak, it is difficult to predict when they will next appear, the museum added.

In addition, the museum’s second observation room will be opened to the public from 10am to 12am and from 2pm to 4pm from today through Sunday, for visitors to observe the phenomenon through a special telescope projection.

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