Late Night: Northern Lights Possible Tonight after Huge Solar Flare
Posted in: Science
Nuts. I can’t tell you how frustrated I am that the skies overhead are overcast where I’m at this evening. If they’re clear where you are and you’re north of 39th parallel (39 degrees latitude), please go and look outside toward the northern portion of the skies above the horizon.
We had a massive solar flare this week, starting on Tuesday — the biggest since December 2006 — and the chart you see here indicates the possibility that some auroral activity may be visible as far south as Indianapolis, Indiana. You might not get a spectacular light show, maybe just a shimmer you can’t define, but it will be more than I can see under this cloud cover.
According to NOAA Space Weather Warning site, we may also experience some other geomagnetic activity overnight. No idea what this means to most of us; it shouldn’t be radio interference as the particles which disrupt that bandwidth have already come and gone nearly 24 hours ago. Apparently there were some disruptions experienced:
A powerful solar eruption that triggered a huge geomagnetic storm has disturbed radio communications and could disrupt electrical power grids, radio and satellite communication in the next days, NASA said.
A strong wave of charged plasma particles emanating from the Jupiter-sized sun spot, the most powerful seen in four years, has already disrupted radio communication in southern China.
The Class X flash — the largest such category — erupted at 0156 GMT Tuesday, according to the US space agency.
“X-class flares are the most powerful of all solar events that can trigger radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms,” disturbing telecommunications and electric grids, NASA said Wednesday.
I do wonder whether the lousy quality of cellphone service I had yesterday might have been due to the solar flare, come to think of it. I blew it off at the time and blamed it on having lousy reception…but perhaps it wasn’t the location at all. And my other phone calls over land lines using wireless handsets have been rather yucky over the last 24-48 hours, too. Blamed that on the caller’s phone and probably shouldn’t have since most of the time when they call their phone is just fine.
Let’s hope as we approach the height of solar maximum around 2013 that we’ll experience nothing more than mild annoyance with communications — and no major outage of service.
What about you? Did you notice anything different with your communications or other electronics over the last 24 hours or so?