Coronal Hole

The biggest thing on the sun today is not a sunspot, it's a coronal hole. The yawning dark gap in the sun's atmosphere is almost directly facing Earth, as shown in this June 25th image from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory:

Coronal holes are places where the sun's magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape. A stream of solar wind flowing from this particular coronal hole will reach Earth on June 29-30. Because the coronal hole is straddling the sun's equator, the solar wind it is sending our way should make a direct hit on our planet's magnetic field. The impact could spark geomagnetic storms around the poles. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras at the end of the month.

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