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PostPosted: Sat Jul 14, 2012 5:00 pm 
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...and it's not now.

A couple of warnings for K index of 5 have come over the wires, but the one in Boulder which is relevant to the US is actually very low at present and hasn't gotten above 2 all day.

If you live in Canada, and it's clear, and you're far enough north, you might get some good aurora out of this.

The K index measures fluctuations in the Earth's magnetic field. It's updated every 3 hours. The fluctuations are good indicators of aurora and movement in the magnetosphere which can cause Faraday-effect currents in long power lines and pipelines. (The fabled "magnetic storm.")

What we are having is a fairly nice proton storm. This is from hydrogen nuclei (ionized hydrogen) blown off in coronal mass ejections, so it's not too far out there to expect a CME to hit Earth. As CMEs go, though, it's pretty weenie.

This whole solar cycle is pretty weenie. There are various theories for why. All of them predict much lower sunspot activity for the next 20-40 years.

This is important because if sunspots drop off and global warming doesn't start back down, we know it's anthropogenic. We know that anyway, but some people with degrees in science and resulting clout as "experts" have advanced the theory that sunspots, which peaked in 1958, CAUSED global warming. We shall see about THAT. In science, if observation doesn't bear out your mathematical predictions, you have to abandon them. Of course, politics is quite a bit less rigorous.

So what's a serious solar flare?

Not this one.

Flares are rated kind of like earthquakes, by X-ray emission in powers of 10. C, M, and X. We have two very large and photogenic sunspot groups right now, regions #1515 and #1520. #1515 rotated out of view (the sun rotates every 28 days, which is extremely fast for such a large body). #1520 is pretty well pointed right at the earth, but even so, the recent 'extreme flare' wasn't very extreme. It was measured at X1.4. That's not bad for this cycle, but as flares go, it doesn't even crack the top 100.

The ones that have had the effects the media are so on about have had the following characteristics:

1. Magnitude X10 or above, the record being estimated X28, fortunately not aimed at Earth.

2. Geoeffective position, in the middle of the solar disk.

3. Coronal mass ejection, mostly protons of various energies. X-ray has no mass, though it too has had its effects on satellites, and you certainly don't want astronauts out in it. Many very expensive satellites have been damaged this way, though now they are getting better at hardening them. But it's the CME that moves the Earth's magnetosphere around, causing shifts in orbits and excessive arcing, and ultimately deflecting charged particles to the poles, exciting the lower atmosphere - aurora.

4. Broadband radio emissions, indicating a high energy phenomenon. This does not cause the infamous "radio blackout" - that's ultra violet and X-ray. It does cause some interesting and measurable noise on all radio frequencies.

We should have one very large flare in this cycle, wussy as it is. You'll know because even if something weird doesn't get into the news, I'll tell you.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2012 12:54 pm 
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UPDATE: finally the flare last week dropped the other shoe and the CME got here and we had some K indices of 6, a moderate storm threshold. There must have been some great aurora last night. Maybe the magnetosphere expanded, and some geosynchronous birds had to cross in and out and now won't last as long. Maybe not.

You need a K of 8 for stuff like aurora in the central US, and in the last cycle it got to 9 (as high as it goes) for a while. 9 is when you see red aurora in places like Florida, and they call the fire department because that's what they're used to doing for all the red glows you see in the sky that far south. 9 is fun. The Earth becomes a far more interesting place, if a bit expensive for people who didn't put such an event in their planning. Even homing pigeons get lost.

The interplanetary magnetic field, not from Earth but from the Faraday effect of moving charges in CME plasma, turns southward in these storms. Right now it's as south as I've ever seen it, but I can't imagine it remaining there long.

I notice we're still here. The "rocket scientists" know all about this stuff, and they still let the Soyuz launch right in the middle of it all. Can't be that bad when you trust the lives of your astronauts in it. Soon Sunny Williams will be back on the ISS and NASA TV will be worth watching again. She's fun.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2012 2:44 pm 
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Pretty typical storm sudden commencement and gradual quieting down. The awesome looking vertical lines on plots from space-based instruments are typical, as are the little anticipatory boinks, the big whoomps the other way, and then the damped oscillation regressing toward center. Atmospheric physicists get really excited about this stuff, and observe it with all manner of arcane instruments.

What's going on it that is the magnetic lines of force in the Earth's planetary magnetosphere, a teardrop shaped affair that points away from the sun like a vane in the solar wind, interact with the incoming fields from moving charged particles, and these lines move, break, and reconnect. As we know from 6th grade science, a moving magnet causes electricity, and vice versa. This all injects considerable energy into the magnetosphere, which is strongest in the polar regions, and guides incoming particles down into these same places (aurora). You can't see the visual aurora in the day time, and in L.A. you can't see it at all, but you can hear it on the radio. It's there.

As are we. We're still here. Bet no one noticed any of this. I wouldn't have, had I not had the radio on. It's just not that scary.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:20 pm 
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Thanks for all the news!
Pat


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2012 4:27 pm 
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Thanks for all the news!
Pat

yeh.
is this tho why the tv box has been acting veddy veddy stoopid the last few days...or do i need
new batts in the remotey...yeh, def that one. got'em cant find'em. :(

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:10 pm 
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Earth's magnetic field has calmed down. If your box is still screwy, change the batteries.

Region 1520 fired off a really really impressive CME from around the west limb of the sun yesterday. Currently it's a halo of fairly energetic particles larger than the sun itself. But it's some other planet's problem.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:30 pm 
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Active Region #1520 has sent out pointy white areas ("plage") around it on the sun's rather nebulous surface, and seems to be forming into a huge complex with a couple of other regions nearby. This is a very disturbed area on the sun, and it's really absolutely enormous. It's still flaring pretty much daily (M7.7 is the latest). Bit of a boink in the X-ray this morning, seen from here over the limb with the resulting oblique view of attendant CMEs and unusually long radio bursts. Nowadays we have spacecraft way, way out at various Lagrange points or in solar orbit, so we can track this stuff all the way around the back side.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 12:26 pm 
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Active region #1523 had multiple spots and looked impressive, but so far only class M flares at the usual rate of one per day. These were not strong enough to make the power grid in India collapse. You can't blame "sunspots" for that one. The several interconnected grids are old, poorly maintained, and frequently go down, just not all at once the way they did this time. The power in India is quite capable of failing all on its own without the sun's help.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:07 pm 
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Media continue to fulminate about solar eruptions wiping out civilization. Frankly, while this is possible, I'd still put it somewhat behind an asteroid hitting the Earth. The biggest solar flare ever documented caused aurora in Cuba and lit up the night in the high latitudes, so you know a lot of things like disruption of bird migrations, etc happened. We're still here. Of course we'd lose GPS and satcom, but then there are those of us who have screamed long and loud for backups. This would not be a solar flare doing us in. This would be ignorance doing us in.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 1:30 pm 
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PS: Uncorrected solar flux today is 98, amazingly low for a "solar peak." Some of this is aphelion, but not much. It's just not a very energetic cycle. Two peaks ago the top was 305. It's a linear scale.

Sunspot numbers are respectable if not spectacular, and we do have a very active region rotating our direction which is putting out daily flares and one nice boink in the X-ray. Of course I said that last week too, and that region calmed down. Following this wussy cycle, a period of low or no sunspots lasting at least a generation seems to be a safe prediction right now.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 1:42 pm 
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maybe these flares are why ive been so bitchy this summer.
...well that and my blood actually boils in heat.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 8:03 pm 
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Animals react to the changes in the Earth's magnetic field when the resulting CMEs arrive. It's especially bad for migratory birds. I'm not as sure about people. We don't seem to have very magnetic personalities.

It's been a big year for protons, but I doubt they do much except help cause aurora. Mostly it's a reason for astronauts to cancel EVAs, though I don't think they've had to. There are a couple next week, and another nice active region turning geoeffective. We shall see.

We really are good for about 1-2 flares a day, but they've all been awfully dinky ones last couple of months. Some real winners have happened on the other side of the sun, and there's been the highest speed CME ever measured, but away from the Earth.

Space is 3 dimensional (that we know about; physics theories go way higher). It's a big place. We're a small target.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 03, 2012 1:09 pm 
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Really really impressive solar eruption last weekend. Not a flare. A filament eruption with considerable mass ejection into space.

Check the SDO time lapses on the usual sites, and especially that false-color one where everything's shades of violet and cyan. It's really one of the prettiest things ever photographed out there. That thing is thousands of miles long.

Flares remain frequent, but all but one were too dinky to even write about. Non-events, really. Region 1560 is all twisted up and could blow out a few more class M and it's geoeffective right now, but so far no joy.

CME from the filament eruption and a few other events are here right now, causing a Kp index of 6 and the G2 moderate storm threshold to be crossed, along with an S1 minor radiation event. This is expected to increase today with good possibility of aurora although timing is bad for optical viewing in North America. It's better as a radio event here.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:15 pm 
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Magnificent CME Erupts on the Sun with Earth to Scale by NASA Goddard Photo and Video, on Flickr

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2012 2:36 pm 
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Interesting phenomenon on the sun yesterday. An M class flare propagated magnetic waves to the next sunspot over, making it blow too. Flare entanglement is a fairly new discovery, and with SDO now we see them better. No CME, but a short lived radio blackout occurred, followed by degraded conditions on some paths.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 2:25 am 
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that size comparison if im seeing it correctly is pretty unfathomable.

wild pic.

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They are racists hate mongers I piss down the throats of these Nazis Im too old to worry whether they like it Fuck them.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 12:54 pm 
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You're seeing it correctly. The sun is something on the order of 100 earth diameters, and its volume would hold a million of our little, highly fought over, third rock.

Of course, were the Earth actually in that position, it would have lasted about a minute and a half.

Still plenty of small flares and CMEs, none geoeffective. New large sunspot groups rotating into view from this planet. (Our spacecraft view them all the way around now.)

Reuters ran another doom story about solar flares. 18 months of no power anywhere on Earth. Unlikely. No GPS, GLONASS, or COMPASS. I'd give that a fair chance, which is why I get upset every time we de-fund another terrestrial fall-back navigation system. Blown transformers (actually caused by power grid fluctuations which can be planned for and avoided). And so on.

Amazing how people require an end of the world to worry about.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 1:58 pm 
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As proof, the Reuters story cited a very large solar flare in the 19th century, whose resulting huge CME caused such large fluctuations in the Earth's magnetic field that Faraday effect in long telegraph lines made several offices catch fire.

Yes, long lines and pipelines will do this. That's why now they design for that. Now that we know what CME, and its friend coronal holes, are, we have days of warning to batten down the electric hatches.

It's another potential catastrophe that's less likely than an asteroid hitting the Earth, or this silly species blowing itself up.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:03 am 
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I saw that short clip, the event was magnificent!
SpaceWeather dot com has the same thing NOAA Space conditions, plus it seems they try to use "plain English" in their descriptions.
Some of the continuously changing conditions graphics portrayed on the site...
Image . Image . Image

NOAA Space Weather Now

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:41 pm 
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Spaceweather is less dense and geeky than Solarham, and it explains things better (or at all). Solarham is usually faster with the news of events. I look at both daily. That NOAA link (SWPC) is a very good one. There are also a number of places one can find things like latest X-ray observations, so they know about new events the same time the science people do.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:24 pm 
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Now? Can I worry now?

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:58 pm 
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Quote:
:Product: Geophysical Alert Message wwv.txt
:Issued: 2012 Sep 17 2105 UTC
# Prepared by the US Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, Space Weather Prediction Center
#
# Geophysical Alert Message
#
Solar-terrestrial indices for 17 September follow.
Solar flux 102 and estimated planetary A-index 5.
The estimated planetary K-index at 2100 UTC on 17 September was 1.

No space weather storms were observed for the past 24 hours.

No space weather storms are predicted for the next 24 hours.

(as of Monday, September 17, 2012 2:05:01 PM)


No.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:41 pm 
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Now? Can I worry now?

Don't worry, be happy!

The geeks here will tell ya when to worry. :geek: I'll include myself!

:rofl:

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:15 pm 
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BIG ASS flare from old region 1564. X-class, maybe high X-class. They don't know for sure because it was on the far side of the sun, and the Stereo-Behind spacecraft doesn't have an X-ray detector. This spacecraft also shows a full-halo CME aimed right at it... therefore away from the Earth.

No damage to the spacecraft, and the CMEs are some other planet's problem.

Don't know if anyone in auroral latitudes reads this board. They probably already know that the equinox gives more bang for the buck when it comes to aurora. Even a little CME can really get it going. We DO have increased solar wind, so it may get nice and pretty up there.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:22 am 
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BIG ASS flare from old region 1564. X-class, maybe high X-class. They don't know for sure because it was on the far side of the sun, and the Stereo-Behind spacecraft doesn't have an X-ray detector. This spacecraft also shows a full-halo CME aimed right at it... therefore away from the Earth.

No damage to the spacecraft, and the CMEs are some other planet's problem.

Don't know if anyone in auroral latitudes reads this board. They probably already know that the equinox gives more bang for the buck when it comes to aurora. Even a little CME can really get it going. We DO have increased solar wind, so it may get nice and pretty up there.


We have missed the significance all along:
That must be why Romney put on the fake tan for his Univision gig - he was worried about solar flares!!!


Its going to get nasty if he ever speaks to the NAACP!


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