Weekly Happenings, June 21, 2013
This morning at 1:04 EDT the Summer Solstice took place making today the first day of Summer. Aside from the summer solstice this weekend, the “Supermoon” or full lunar perigee will be visible all weekend. Again, the sun is sparking with flares from an active sunspot. Will we actually get northern lights this time or will New England be left in the dark? This week could be a great week of celestial events.
On Sunday morning (June 23) at 7:00 a.m. the lunar perigee will take place shortly followed by the moon reaching its full phase, effectively making this the largest full moon of the year. At this time the moon will be at its closest point to Earth in its orbit. The media has popularly coined the lunar perigee coinciding with a full moon event the “Supermoon”. I am sure you will hear much hype about how big and bright the “Supermoon” was, but in reality the size and brightness differences from other full moon phases of the year are minimal. The lunar apogee and full moon on January 14, 2014 (the point at which the moon is at its furthest from Earth during a full phase) will be 12% smaller than this weekend's lunar event. Likewise, be sure to step outside for a view of the Supermoon. The best time to observe will be Saturday just after sunset, but any time this weekend will be great.
This morning, sunspot AR1777 unleashed an M2-class solar flare. The flare was not directed towards Earth, so no northern lights for us. But the active AR1777 sunspot is slowing moving into position to possibly blast flares our way. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of M-class flares coming our way from this active sunspot and a 5% chance of X-class flares during the next 24 hours. Keep your fingers crossed as all of us in New England have been thwarted by the northern lights this year to date.
Happy first day of Summer!