BIG SOLAR PROMINENCES: The face of the sun is quiet; no sunspots are flaring. The edge of the sun is a different matter. Amateur astronomers are monitoring a network of huge prominences rising above the sun's western limb. Bill Hrudey sends this picture from the Cayman Islands:
"I used a Lunt solar telescope to photograph these interesting prominences," says Hrudey.
Prominences are massive plumes of hot plasma held above the surface of the sun by magnetic force fields. Frequently, these magnetic fields become unstable and erupt, hurling billions of tons of hot gas into space. Got a solar telescope? Monitoring is encouraged.