Giant spot visible on sun

- If you look closely -- but carefully -- at the sun this week, you'll notice it seems to be having a bad face day.  A seemingly small, dark blemish on the face of the sun is actually a giant sunspot several times the size of Earth.

The sunspot appears as a dark area on the sun's otherwise smooth golden surface in photos by everyone from amateur astronomers to NASA.  The space agency's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the spot in several different views and wavelengths.

Sometimes, sunspots can generate solar flares that create brilliant aurora displays and even interrupt satellite and cellular communications when they reach Earth, but so far this spot has remained relatively quiet.

The spot appears dark because "a tangle of magnetic fields blocks the upward flow of heat from the sun's interior," spaceweather.com explains.

The spot is even turning up in unmagnified photos of the sun taken from Earth, especially at sunset.  To photograph it or see it, you'd need to have proper filtering equipment to protect your eyes and gear -- NEVER look directly at the sun with your naked eyes or using unfiltered magnifying equipment.

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