UT: Solar Storm Heading Our Way

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bystander
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UT: Solar Storm Heading Our Way

Post by bystander » Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:11 pm

Solar Storm Heading Our Way
Universe Today | Nancy Atkinson | 2011 Aug 03
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
Early today, (Aug 3, 2011) two active regions on the Sun, sunspot 1261 and 1263 unleashed solar flares, which was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The above video shows an M6 class flare from 1261 in a couple of different wavelengths. SolarstormWatch, a citizen science project through the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England predicts the solar storm from the larger flare to reach Earth at 15:00 UTC on August 5, 2011, and also predict direct hit on Earth.
...
Solar storms are a concern if they hit Earth directly since under the right conditions, they can create extra electrical currents in Earth’s magnetosphere. The electrical power grid is vulnerable to any extra currents, which can infiltrate high-voltage transmission lines, causing transformers to overheat and possibly burn out.

Check SpaceWeather.com and the National Weather Service’s Space Weather Prediction Center for more information.

http://asterisk.apod.com/viewtopic.php? ... 96#p154396

Solar Flare May Spark Dazzling Northern Lights Displays Friday
Space.com | Clara Moskowitz | 2011 Aug 03
Those who look to the skies on Friday (Aug. 5) may see exceptional auroras thanks to a strong solar flare that hurled a cloud of plasma toward Earth earlier this week.

The solar flare occurred yesterday (Aug. 2) when an intense magnetic event above sunspot 1261 blasted out a flow of charged particles that's now headed toward Earth, according to SpaceWeather.com, a website that monitors space weather. This could unleash a geomagnetic storm here on our planet that might disrupt satellite and radio communications.

The plus side, though, is that skywatchers at high latitudes can expect extra-special aurora borealis displays, also known as the Northern Lights, from the interaction of these charged particles with Earth's magnetic field.

Yesterday's storm, while powerful, was nothing major, registering as a middleclass M1 solar flare. Scientist measure the strength of solar flares using a three-class system. M-Class flares are medium-strength events. The strongest type of solar eruption is class X, while class C represents the weakest, on the scale. [Anatomy of Sun Storms & Solar Flares (Infographic)]

Yesterday's solar storm unleashed a stream of protons and electrons into space in an eruption known as a coronal mass ejection (CME). It is this flow of particles that is now on a collision course with Earth.

Three NASA spacecraft — the SOHO satellite and the twin STEREO vehicles — were able to track the ejection as it left the sun. Their three different vantage points provided a 3-D model of the cloud that revealed it left the solar surface at a rate of about 560 miles per second (900 kilometers per second), SpaceWeather.com reported.

Activity Heating Up on the Sun!
Universe Today | Nancy Atkinson | 2011 Aug 02
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Re: UT: Solar Storm Heading Our Way

Post by owlice » Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:15 pm

So is that Friday, as in early morning (after midnight), or Friday, as in evening (after 9 PM)? Because if there are going to be auroras on Friday as in evening, maybe I need to fly someplace -- using up airline miles, don't you know (I've tried giving them away, and no one wants them!) -- to see these.
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Re: UT: Solar Storm Heading Our Way

Post by bystander » Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:33 pm

Yes! See: SpaceWeather.com. There was another flare today.
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Re: UT: Solar Storm Heading Our Way

Post by Sam » Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:58 pm

15:00 UTC, which works out to 10am Friday for me in Minneapolis. Maybe it will last into the evening?
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Re: UT: Solar Storm Heading Our Way

Post by owlice » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:11 pm

Plus or minus 7 hours, yes?

I wonder if I can pull this off; off to see.
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Re: UT: Solar Storm Heading Our Way

Post by rstevenson » Thu Aug 04, 2011 1:09 am

What is the duration of the event here on Earth? That is, is the 15:00 UTC time the beginning, the end, or the mid-point of the passage of the CME?

I'm trying to work out the best viewing time for someone in Northern Alberta (UTC -7 hrs) to catch any aurorae that may occur.

Rob

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BA: Sun blows out another big one, expect aurorae tonight!

Post by bystander » Fri Aug 05, 2011 7:08 pm

Sun blows out another big one, expect aurorae tonight!
Discover Blogs | Bad Astronomy | 2011 Aug 05
On August 4 at about 04:00 UT, the Sun let loose with another big flare, this one ranking as an M 9.5 or so on the standard flare classification, bigger than the one earlier this week. It also triggered a coronal mass ejection, which means we may get some effects here on Earth.

First, the way-cool video:
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
[Set the resolution to 720p or 1080p for the best view. Note: In the video title
I said this happened on August 3. It did, in my time zone! It was August 4th
in Universal Time, however. Sorry about any confusion.]
This is in the far ultraviolet, where energetic events like these show up well. The bright regions are actually sunspots, which are dark to our eye but are pretty glowy in the UV. At 03:57 UT the magnetic field lines in the spot reconnected, starting a cascade that released all the energy they contained. This caused the flare that’s fairly obvious in the video. But you can also see material blasting away from the area, some falling back down. Finally, there are wispy tendrils of material arcing up that fade away.

What you don’t really see here (but SpaceWeather has an animated GIF of it) is that this also sparked a coronal mass ejection (CME), a much larger explosion of energy that blasted roughly a billion tons of subatomic particles away from the Sun at the terrifying speed of nearly 2000 km/sec (1200 miles/sec). The energy involved in an event like this will crush your sense of scale to dust: it’s the equivalent of the detonation of 500 million one-megaton nuclear bombs.

Of course, the 150 million kilometers between us and the Sun is a pretty big buffer. As the CME expands the energy spreads out a lot, and by the time it reaches here it’s much weaker, though still significant. Now, don’t panic: this happens a lot, and generally isn’t too big a deal to us on the ground. This flare and CME were big but not nearly as big as the Sun can put out. However, it is expected this material will hit the Earth’s geomagnetic field sometime today, probably around 14:00 UT (10:00 a.m. Eastern US time). If it does, it will probably spark aurorae at high to medium latitudes. I live in Boulder, so I’ll be out tonight looking for them. You can check the NOAA Solar Weather page to see if you are inside the expected region to see the northern lights from this.

I doubt we’ll see many satellite or cell phone problems from this, though it’s possible. This sunspot (technically named Active Region 1261) still seems pretty agitated, so we may yet see more from it. It’s rotating to the opposite side of the Sun, though, so it most likely won’t do anything to us after this.

… but, as I’ve been pointing out, we’re at the start of the solar cycle. It won’t peak until 2013 or so, and it’s around then we’ll probably see the big fireworks. Again, we probably won’t be affected here on Earth — in 2003 we had some huge events, and we survived — but brownouts and damage to satellites are always possible. I’ll be keeping my eye on all this, and you’ll hear about it as soon as I do.

http://asterisk.apod.com/viewtopic.php? ... 89#p154489
Know the quiet place within your heart and touch the rainbow of possibility; be
alive to the gentle breeze of communication, and please stop being such a jerk.
— Garrison Keillor