Up Sucker Creek

Up Sucker Creek
Photo Courtesy of the Lake Oswego Library

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Solar Storms disruptive and beautiful

As I suspected, we are probably too late for any auroras to be seen with this solar flare. It would have been nice.  See update from NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center:

2014-09-14 02:34 UTC  Storm Conditions Now Waning
It has now been a little over 48 hours since the first of two CMEs passed Earth, 36 hours since the second arrived. This pair of plasma clouds interacted with Earth's magnetosphere, mostly on Friday evening, producing minor to strong (G1-G3) geomagnetic storms in their wake. Unfortunately for hopeful aurora watchers across most of the U.S., the majority of the activity occurred before dusk on Friday. However, our European friends were able to see them farther south than usual. A few sightings in New England and Eastern Canada were also reported.

The magnetosphere is currently quiet, though solar wind signatures suggest that a slight potential remains for as much as G1 (minor) storms over the next 12-18 hours.

An x1.6-class solar flare flashes in the middle of the sun on September 10, 2014. This image was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and shows light in the 131-angstrom wavelength, which is typically colorized in teal.
Credit: NASA/SDO

Solar Storm Heading for Earth May Spark 
Auroras This Weekend

National Geographic NewswatchPosted by Andrew Fazekas in StarStruck on September 11, 2014

Two powerful solar storm clouds are heading straight for Earth, triggering an aurora alert across northern Europe, Asia, Canada, and the northern United States.
Two giant flares—the second of which was an X-class, the most powerful of solar blasts—erupted on the sun’s fiery surface on September 9 and 10, shooting two outbursts of charged particles known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) into space. Space weather officials predict that these plasma clouds will produce strong geomagnetic storms and hit Earth on September 12 and 13.
The flares themselves were observed by NASA, which posted stunning photos and videos of the events on its website.
Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation that erupt from regions of the solar surface many times the size of our planet. They can cause disturbances in Earth’s atmosphere while disrupting GPS and radio signals. The disruptions can last as long as the flares do, anywhere from minutes to hours.
Sky Glow
Now attention has turned to the two CMEs that have Earth in their crosshairs. NOAA space weather forecasters report that when CMEs slam into Earth’s magnetic field, the results may include induced electrical currents that could trigger residential and commercial alarm systems, intermittent satellite navigation (GPS) problems, high-frequency radio outages, and potentially, northern lights.
So, the big question is whether we will get to see any sky fireworks from this solar storm. That will depend on the strength of the storm and the orientation of Earth’s dynamic magnetic field when it hits. Sky-watchers, particularly those in northern-latitude regions, should be on the lookout for possible auroras visible in the northern skies. Forecasters say that these sky glows may extend as far south as Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Oregon. (See “Pictures: Auroras of February and March.”)
The best time to try and capture pictures of auroras, in general, is between midnight and the pre-dawn hours. Face the northern sky and look for green or red glows that start near the horizon. In terms of equipment and technique, all you need to have is a tripod-mounted DSLR camera with a wide-angle lens, capable of taking exposures of up to 20 seconds with a remote timer. (Related: “Did You Hear the Northern Lights?”)

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