Solar storm sparks dazzling northern lights


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This could cause disruptions in communicatins as the sun nears the solar maximum. The next solar maximum is currently predicted to occur in February 2013:

AP via CBS News:
(AP) STOCKHOLM — A storm from the broiling sun turned the chilly northernmost skies of Earth into an ever-changing and awe-provoking art show of northern lights on Tuesday.

Even experienced stargazers were stunned by the intensity of the aurora borealis that swept across the night sky in northern Scandinavia after the biggest solar flare in six years.

"It has been absolutely incredible," British astronomer John Mason cried from the deck of the MS Midnatsol, a cruise ship plying the fjord-fringed coast of northern Norway.

"I saw my first aurora 40 years ago, and this is one of the best," Mason told The Associated Press, his voice nearly drowning in the cheers of awe-struck fellow passengers.

U.S. space weather experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday evening that so far they had heard of no problems from the storm that triggered the auroras, which made it as far south as Wales, where the weather often doesn't cooperate with good viewing.

It was part of the strongest solar storm in years, but the sun is likely to get even more active in the next few months and years, said physicist Doug Biesecker at the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado.

"To me this was a wake up call. The sun is reminding us that solar max is approaching," Biesecker said. "A lot worse is in store for us. We hope that you guys are paying attention. I would say we passed with flying colors."
On Monday and Tuesday, the proton radiation from the eruption reached strong levels, the most powerful since October 2003. That mostly affects astronauts and satellites, but NASA said the crew on the International Space Station was not harmed and only a few minor problems with satellites were reported, Biesecker said.

However, some airplane flights over the North Pole have been rerouted because of expected communication problems from the radiation.

Geomagnetic storms cause awesome sights, but they can also bring trouble. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, problems can include current surges in power lines, and interference in the broadcast of radio, TV and telephone signals. No such problems were reported Tuesday.
Solar storm sparks dazzling northern lights - CBS News


, Blogger: Orry's Orations
The news had images of the lights and it was amazing. I still recall seeing the majesty of the northern lights on a cruise years ago -- fascinating.


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In New York, We had a display that covered the ENTIRE sky, North to South, during the last solar maximum. AWESOME.

It blew out transformers in Canada, and was seen as far south as Texas.

Fringe Reception

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In 1974 eight of us piled into a pickup truck (with a canopy) to go night skiing at Hyak, on Snoqualmie Pass in Washington State. Lift tickets were $2.35 in those days. The Ski Lift 'Chair' went up the mountain and down the opposite side and returned as a loop. About 7 PM, the Ski Resort closed the back-side of the mountain and turned off the lights. WOW! The sky was perfectly clear and we wondered about the colored lights we saw dancing on the snow until one of us looked up. What a show.



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I wish we could have one here...It would probably take an X class flare aimed directly at Earth though. The last X flare a couple days ago just missed us.