Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Taste of Solar Maximum





July 20, 2012:  Forecasters say Solar Max is due in the year 2013.  When it arrives, the peak of 11-year sunspot cycle will bring more solar flares, more coronal mass ejections, more geomagnetic storms and more auroras than we have experienced in quite some time.

On the weekend of July 14, 2012, sky watchers around the world got a taste of things to come.

It was mid-Saturday in North America when a coronal mass ejection or "CME" crashed into Earth's magnetic field and triggered the most sustained display of auroras in years.  For more than 36 hours, magnetic storms circled Earth's poles.  Northern Lights spilled across the Canadian border into the United States as far south as California, Colorado, Kansas, and Arkansas.  In the southern hemisphere, skies turned red over Tasmania and New Zealand, while the aurora australis pirouetted around the South Pole.

A Taste of Solar Maximum (splash)
A new ScienceCast video takes you on a trip around the world to witness the geomagnetic storm of July 14-16, 2012. Play it
 
The source of the CME was giant sunspot AR1520, a seething nest of tangled magnetism more than 15 times wider than Earth itself.  On July 12th, the sunspot's magnetic field erupted, producing an X-class solar flare and hurling a billion tons of electrified plasma toward our planet. 

MORE: http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2012/20jul_tasteofsolarmax/

Source: NASA

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1 comment:

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