Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Bucket list check off opportunity?

My "bucket list" includes "Seeing the Northern Lights."
Bernie and I agree that if necessary, someday we will travel far north, either to Scandinavian countries, Iceland, or Canada to see them.

But maybe...just maybe...I will get to see them from home, tonight?

Our sun had a HUGE solar flare yesterday, and a twin one as well. The flares were so big, they flipped the sun's magnetic field!Both flares are aimed right at earth, and the scientists are saying the Northern and Southern lights could be putting on a really big show Tuesday night.

I'll be watching, and my hope is that if I don't see them, then some fellow bloggers might, and post pictures.

Here's one article about it:

Solar flare heading to Earth may create spectacular aurorae

Earth Sun aurora Posted On: Aug 03, 2010 WASHINGTON (BNS): Skygazers in the coming two days may expect some spectacular celestial display in the evening sky when charged particles ejected from the Sun enter Earth’s atmosphere to create magical aurorae.

Earth orbiting satellites have detected a C3 class solar flare, which according to astronomers, is smaller than X and M-class flares. The flare, originated from the Earth-facing sunspot 1092, has spawned a coronal mass ejection (CME) heading in Earth’s direction, according to NASA
The CMEs are large clouds of charged particles ejected from the Sun over the course of several hours and can carry up to ten billion tons (1016 grams) of plasma. They expand away from the Sun at speeds as high as a million miles an hour. A CME can make the 93-million-mile journey to Earth in just three to four days.

When a CME reaches Earth, it interacts with the planet’s magnetic field, potentially creating a geomagnetic storm. Solar particles stream down the field lines toward Earth’s poles and collide with atoms of nitrogen and oxygen in the atmosphere, which results in spectacular auroral displays.

On the evening of August 3rd/4th, skywatchers in the northern US and other countries should look toward the north for the rippling dancing “curtains” of green and red light, NASA said.



Supposedly a "Really Big Show" is due to happen in 2013, when the sun "awakens" from a slumber, and starts shooting out flares like crazy. That's about a technical as I can write about what is to happen. I do know that the sun has consistent cycles, the scientists track them, and the last time the sun was at a cycle like the upcoming one was back in the late 1800, and people in Hawaii were seeing the Northern lights.

The saying "Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects" really applies to me in the field of science and astronomy. Trying to get a tiny grip on the subjects, I have been reading NASA's space weather site. They post space weather alerts for..um...I'm really not sure who needs to know about solar storms (like do the folks up in the space station read the space weather page and discuss it over their morning coffee?)

Anyway, in case you are interested, here's the LINK to that weather page. Go ahead, take a look. It does show the Northern lights as overlaying all of Canada and down to the top of California.

The only thing I am sure of is that if a solar flare of a certain size goes off, it can take out power grids. And the repair of a solar flare damaged power grid takes weeks and weeks. I guess that is why I casually check the cite. If Space Weather Page says a flare of a massive size just happened, I'd be inclined to mosey over to the grocery store and stock up on a few things.
Just in case.
You know what I mean?


ellen b. said...

Oh I'm going to write myself a memo to look North tonight!! and maybe stock up with some batteries for the flashlights :0)

Vicki said...

I don't suppose they'll be visible way down here in Florida, will they?

My family thinks I'm crazy, but I can remember the TV and radio stations making a big deal in the mid '60s about the lights being visible, and I can remember several of us standing in our front yard in KY watching them.

Vee said...

How interesting! You've taught me more than I ever knew about it before. I do know that I have seen the Northern Lights, but not for many years. I won't see them tonight because the weather is hazy and overcast. Shoot! I'll be hoping that someone will post pictures.

L&D said...

Cool! I wonder if you'll be able to see it. I wish I knew what direction to look because seriously, I don't know my Norths from Easts. Just as I have difficulty with my lefts and rights and similarly with my head versus butt. So, let me know how that goes!