While wandering through Facebook today, I saw a post from the Weather Channel. I subscribed to it because they have unusual things posted from time to time and, being the science nut that I am, I like learning new things.
What caught my eye was the thumbnail picture of the sun. So I hit the link to find out what was going on. I knew about the twin satellites they sent up, called STEREO, and wanted to see the pictures they’d sent back. (And I’m sorry if you want to view the link below, but you’ll probably have to cut and paste this since I can’t get the machine to turn it into a link.) They were amazing.
Sun Shows Its Full 3-Dimensional Glory – weather.com
I’m impressed by both NASA and the satellites they sent to orbit the sun. In doing this they also proved that the sun really does rotate and is in a passive state right now, not putting out very many solar flares. The things they will learn about the sun, and how it affects our weather, will be amazing.
Solar flares cause auroras (as everybody knows) and disruption of electrical and magnetic fields. In 1859 a gigantic solar flare circled most of the earth and caused auroras to be seen as far south as the equator. It also caused telegraph systems shut down. It didn’t destroy them, and the operators found that if they unplugged them they came back on. Which was a good thing for the people of 1859.
Today we wouldn’t be so lucky. A gigantic solar storm like the one in 1859, called the Carrington Event, would, most likely, cripple a major portion of the earth. Anything magnetic, or that had some kind of magnetic field, would go down. Computers would be fried, electrical grids would overload, computerized cars would quit…..in short, we’d be thrown back about 150 years to the horse and buggy era. Personally, not my idea of a good time. I like my creature comforts.
And, if there is a gigantic flare that is heading our way, we would, at least, have a warning about it, unlike the people of 1859 who knew virtually nothing about solar flares. So, hats off to NASA for this great achievement.