Precisely one month ago, on 11 July 2009, the last active area of the new solar cycle disappeared from the surface of the Sun. Over the 30 days following this, neither observers on Earth nor devices in space have been able to detect the emergence of any sunspots. Due to the fact that the Sun has completed a full rotation around its axis during this period, it is possible to conclude that not only are there no sunspots on the side facing Earth, but that there are no sunspots on the entire surface of the Sun. Therefore, it seems that our star has once again returned to a state of deep solar “winter”, following several sparks of activity in May-June 2009. Today (12 August) marks the start of the second month of this solar inactivity.
The strongest geomagnetic storm for the last seven months began on Earth almost precisely at the same time as the solar eclipse reached its maximal stage, the culmination of which occurred at GMT 02:35 (06:35 Moscow time). The ten-point Kp-index of geomagnetic activity, which only exceeded level 3 once in July, registered a rapid jump to Kp=6 within an hour, corresponding to a level 2 magnetic storm. Oscillations of such amplitude in the magnetic field have not been observed since October, 11th of last year, which is more than seven months ago.
The Russian TESIS (LPI RAS) Solar Observatory has transmitted observations back to Earth of the solar eclipse made on July 22nd, 2009. Thanks to the specific orbit of the space vehicle, the observatory’s x-ray telescopes detected the eclipse twice. On the first occasion, the satellite passed through the eclipse area at 04:30 Moscow time, making it the first on our planet to see the shadow of the Moon, which was still in space and was only approaching the Earth (film 1.2 MB, wmv format). And 4 hours later, when almost all the inhabitants of the Earth had already said goodbye to the eclipse, TESIS telescopes captured images of the second deepest transit of the Moon across the Sun.