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Revision History For: Is anyone watching the sun lately?

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SUN SERPENT: Amateur astronomers arpund the world are monitoring a gigantic filament of magnetism on the sun. If one end of the filament were on Earth, the other end would reach all the way to the Moon. The dimensions of the structure make it an easy target for amateur solar telescopes. Richard Fleet sends this picture from his backyard observatory in Wiltshire, England:



This filament is filled with billions of tons of plasma, yet it has remained suspended above the surface of the sun for days. Such a massive structure, buffeted as it is by winds and currents in the sun's atmosphere, is unlikely to remain stable much longer. If the filament collapses, it could crash into the surface of the sun and spark a powerful type of explosion called a Hyder flare. Amateur astronomers are encouraged to monitor developments.