AR1748 is one pesky sunspot; still beating its chest, and threatening to show us who’s boss. With odds of eruptions now up to 80% for M-class and 60% for X in the next 24 hours – 1748 unleashed another X class flare today – in case the three X flares of 1.7, 2.8, and 3.2 the previous day hadn’t made us stand up and take notice. As AR1748 turns towards earth, today’s X-1 is expected to deliver a little slap – most likely in the form of geo-magnetic disturbances responsible for crazy beautiful auroras. Ar1748 has produced more X-class flares in the last few days than all other sunspots this year combined.
NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory – photo of AR 1748 taken on May 16
I’ve been a space weather nerd for a while and have never seen an 80% chance of M-class and 40% chance of X-class flares in the next 24 hours. Our sun is flexing muscle with the most intense solar activity this year. Sunspot AR 1748 let loose significant X class eruptions of 1.7, 2.8, and 3.2 in the last 24 hours. Take it from me – this is crazy. The good news is none were “earth directed”, no incoming CME (coronal mass ejection) is anticipated for now. The bad news – while researching when 1748 will face earth I stumbled upon a wordpress blog proclaiming it the beginning of the “rapture”. My decision to retreat, despite every fibre in my being screaming “post a comment” – left me shaking, incensed, reaching for a cocktail, and ultimately validated in my AR1748 raised eyebrow. When all is said and done – not only have I never seen such crazy solar activity in a short period of time, I’ve never seen it attributed to the rapture. All the affirmation I need to know I’m not pondering fairy dust. FYI -AR1748 will be earth directed in a few days.
Bookmark this link to spaceweather, start paying attention to solar reports, and send your tin foil hats to those anticipating the “rapture”, just be sure to tuck a little tin foil into that emergency kit at the top of your “to do” list.
I wouldn’t be a particularly responsible space weather geek if I neglected to report on uppity sunspots. Sunspots AR 1730 and 1731 are getting cranky; currently a 40% chance of M-class and 5% chance of X-class flares in the next 24 hours. Ho hum you say? Most likely the case – but never fear, I’m on the job and will let you know if any spectacular eruptions take place.
I just heard from my sister in Saskatchewan; feeling green with envy as she’s sitting on her front steps watching the Northern Lights dance. Auroras are a magical gift – they find you, wrap their arms around you, and feed your soul. Argh – so jealous.
Solar eruption on the far-side of the sun – courtesy NASA
Comet C2013 A1 was discovered on January 3, 2013 by Robert McNaught at Siding Spring Observatory. Believed to have been thrown from the Oort cloud; this one is poised to give Mars a little trouble. On October 29, 2014 estimates place it within 37,000 Km. from the surface of Mars.
A lot can happen to this projection in the next year. This isn’t a single asteroid, rather a massive comet with a nucleus estimated anywhere from 15 to 50 Km, and a tail up to 100,000 Km. This tail isn’t just along for the ride; it’s made up of smaller rubble and frozen gasses – often with a mind of their own. C2013 A1 is passing close enough to the Sun at the moment to melt some of these frozen gasses, sending them hurtling into space. Often this action is enough to change the course of a comet, though best guesses are placing money on a close call rather than a direct hit.
Mars may be spared an impact estimated at 25 million times more powerful than a nuclear bomb – it has no chance of escaping the massive tail. Without question it will be spanked by unknown quantities of space junk.
There is no chance that Earth will be in harms way. At least not this time around.
AFP/Getty ImagesThere’s a chance, albeit slim, that a comet upwards of 50km wide could slam into Mars in 2014.
The solar winds are currently kicking up quite a fuss. As someone who pays attention to these things – trust me when I say that’s pretty fast. Solar winds cut loose when coronal holes open up on the surface of the sun; unfathomable blasts explode from their bellies. At the moment reported to be 585 Km/sec.
This got me pondering – how fast is that really? It translates to 1,308,607.73 MPH!
I talk about sunspots and solar activity a lot. If I had my way space weather would be included in the nightly weather reports. We prepare for hurricanes and massive snow storms, yet few people understand the implications of a healthy earth directed solar storm. A strong M-class or more powerful X-class solar storm could wipe out the power grid, plunging unsuspecting citizens into darkness.
A direct hit similar to the “Carrington event” of 1859 would be disastrous. Estimates range from weeks to months without electricity. Following a large earth directed CME (coronal mass ejection) we have 24 – 36 hours before repercussions are realized. Most often it passes without consequence. Airplanes change course to avoid high latitude radiation, auroras are incredible, and nobody even notices the disruption in high level radio waves.
That said; sunspot AR 1654 is kicking up a fuss. Solar wind is steady at around 400 Km/second, current estimates are a 60% chance of M-class and 5% of X-class in the next 24 hours. This sunspot is gaining strength and will soon be facing earth.
I’m not saying earth is on the brink of disaster, at least not from a sunspot. What I’m saying is we all need to think about implications of space weather. It’s only a matter of time before a really large solar flare causes serious problems. Spend a few minutes pondering what you would do; set aside emergency supplies, cash, and a positive attitude.
For those lucky enough to live in the northern hemisphere – be on the look out for some fantastic auroras.
On Dec. 17 a massive coronal hole opened up on the surface of the sun. It unleashed some impressive solar winds. Currently solar wind speed is 470 Km/second. Located in the southern hemisphere of the sun, the impact of the wind will not be earth directed for now. Depending on how long this coronal hole acts up, it may be earth directed in the next few days.
Every star, planet, and moon in the universe has its own weather patterns. Planets such as Jupiter have storms that rage for years. Massive dust storms on Mars, methane rain, lava flowing from the belly of ice planets, winds in excess of thousands of Km. per second – nothing unusual about this weather report.
Being an avid space weather person I’ve learned to watch the solar wind. My faithful watchdog spaceweather.com updates it every 10 minutes. Most people know about sunspots, how about coronal holes? Think of sun spots as Krakatoa and coronal holes as Hurricane Sandy.
Sept. 22 the fall equinox arrives. Earth doesn’t orbit the Sun straight up and down, it’s tilted on a rather wobbly axis of about 23 degrees. Twice a year the angle of orbit mirrors the angle of tilt resulting in the axis neither turning towards or away from the Sun. This is the equinox, the point at which Northern and Southern hemispheres switch seasons as the Earth continues along its endless path. At the equinox both hemispheres receive about the same amount of sunlight, their days and nights the same duration. Equinox is derived from the Latin words aequis meaning”equal” and nox meaning “night”.
Ancient cultures built mind boggling structures for the sole purpose of marking the equinox. Stonehenge and Machu Pichu are two of the better known astrological observatories tirelessly heralding in the equinox with scientific precision.
No active sunspots are brewing at the moment. We’ll have to settle for a little plasma rain. Plasma rain is actually moon sized droplets, falling from the Sun’s atmosphere to its surface. Far from anything we would recognize as rain, solar rain is electromagnetic energy kicking up a fuss.
This video from spaceweather.com was put together by Michael Burton of Ocean Beach California.