For a whole week, Oct. 9th – 15th, the face of the sun was utterly blank. There were no sunspots and no solar flares and NOAA classified solar activity as “very low.” At the same time, space weather was remarkably stormy. From Oct. 11th through 15th, not a single day went by without a geomagnetic storm!
Brilliant auroras appeared in the sky of Alaska, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Canada, Russia and Finland. In the USA, Northern Lights descended as far south as Michigan, Minnesota, Wyoming, and Washington… ALL WITHOUT A SINGLE SUNSPOT!?!
There is currently a giant coronal hole on the sun. And this hole in the sun’s atmosphere allows solar wind to escape, mimicking the effect of a CME and lighting up polar regions with beautiful northern lights during FIVE DAYS OF CONTINUOUS G1- and G2-class GEOMAGNETIC STORMS.
The geomagnetic storming was also captured on magnetometer in England as Earth’s magnetic field started rattling.
Coronal holes are present throughout the solar cycle, even during Solar Minimum when sunspots are scarce… Thanks to them space weather never stops.