The sun is in the most unusual state that has ever been observed. At a time when it should be recording greatly diminished sunspot activity, the most active sunspot ever observed has just finished crossing its face. The largest solar flare ever recorded–by far–exploded out of this sunspot on November 4.

This extraordinary event wasn’t headline news. In fact, it didn’t even make the back pages of most papers and news websites, let alone the broadcast news. Unknowncountry, Earthfiles and the NASA and NOAA sites were the only places where it was really featured as a major news item.
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An explosion of extreme power occured on the sun at 3:10 AM Pacific Time today. This explosion is classed as an X-17 solar flare. X-1 is the least strong of the high power flares, X-9 normally the highest on the scale.

The flare sent a coronal mass ejection directly toward earth, and its effects should be felt as early as tonight. (Tuesday, October 28) Auroras should be visible as far south the Great Plains, and possibly farther south.

Whether the CME will result in disruptions to electronic devices and power transmission facilities, or have other effects is not known. However, the earth’s magnetic field has been buffeted by solar storms in recent weeks, and it is likely that various effects will be felt.
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Twin X-class solar flares erupted from two different enormous sunspots that have appeared on the surface of the sun at the same time. Coronal mass ejections from the X-1 class explosions are expected to reach earth on October 28, possibly causing significant magnetic storms. Auroras are likely to be visible as far south as the northern tier of US states.

Coming at what should be the declining end of the solar maximum, the extremely high level of solar activity presently being observed is unusual, and the presence of two sunspots this large on the solar surface at the same time has rarely, if ever, been recorded before.

The flare in the illustration accompanying this article is large enough to enclose thirty planets the size of the earth in its arch.
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It has now been confirmed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that the solar flare that emerged from sunspot area 9393 on Monday at 5:57 EDT was measured as X-22 on the 20 point solar flare gauge. This makes it a tie for the largest ever recorded in the 25 years the list has been kept.

The flare sent most of its energy away from earth, but a substantial amount is still expected to reach the planet. The leading edge of the storm passed earth at 11AM today, April 4, 2001. is reporting that intense auroras are likely, but should not reach the intensity recorded March 31.
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