Sunspot 1158 is acting up.
It looks like one of the more active sunspots
in the current cycle has erupted with a series of (relatively) rapid-fire solar flares, pointing directly at the Earth. It looks like this evening/tomorrow morning will be prime-time for looking north if you are as far south as, oh maybe Wisconsin or so. You can hear the flares
"The sun is waking up from a deep slumber, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity." Dr. Richard Fisher
and other sun-gazing scientists recently discussed
the upcoming peak in the 11-year sunspot cycle
. Due to the ever-increasing humans' reliance on electrical systems, the storm could leave a multi-billion pound damage bill and "potentially devastating" problems for governments.
Constant improvements in satellite designs have assisted in
bracing for a solar superstorm
, an effort that comes in part by studying the impacts records of activity from past peaks in solar storms. System limits are set based on significant solar storm-triggered events in the past
, though the largest magnetic storm on record was before the modern understanding of solar events
. The solar storm of 1859
, also known as The Carrington Event
, when "telegraphs ran on electric air
," was experienced around the world. [more inside]
Staring at the sun.
YouTube video of solar flares, made from images captured by the SOHO satellite
. Yes, there is more
The largest solar flare of the current solar cycle
shot off the sun earlier today. After the media latched on to what was predicted to be mostly a non-event last week (probably due to a NASA article released around the same time about a super spacestorm
) , it's not making as much news this time. But you should pay attention this time
. This could be the best and last chance for a lot of us farther south to see some auroras before the sun dives into solar minimum, assuming all the variables line up
correctly this time. I recommend watching the Solar Terrestrial Dispatch
, as it is a great all around resource for solar activity and auroras that includes live data and sightings reports by the general public. Unfortunately though, no doubt as word IS spreading, that site is being hammered again and may be quite slow.
Aurora Borealis... in Santa Fe, NM
i'm up late writing a paper and chanced to look out the window, only to see red gaseous-looking clouds in the sky... I know it seems absurd to see the northern lights in the southwest, but this map almost makes it appear possible, probably because of the altitude... if i see four horsemen though, i'm running like hell.
Even though I've mentioned this, I should post a link.
Even though solar flares
are evil and will ultimatly bring down the human kind, they make for really cool night light shows
Sky watchers should be on the lookout for aurora during nighttime hours for the next two days. The bright gibbous moon will hamper visibility of faint Northern and Southern Lights, but bright aurora may be visible in spite of the lunar interference. Usually, the best time to see aurora borealis (or aurora australis) is near local midnight.