The Sun

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On the 23rd October 2003 the Sun's face showed two large sunspot groups.

The large group in the centre is 484. This group was responsible for a Earth directed coronal mass ejection resulting in aurora.

The group emerging from the limb is 486.

One of the most powerful solar flares in years erupted from giant sunspot 486 on Oct. 28th.  The explosion also hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) toward Earth. The CME struck Earth's magnetic field on Oct. 29th and sparked an intense geomagnetic storm. Despite poor conditions the northern lights were visible through gaps in the clouds over Lancashire.