On August 24th at 12:17 UT, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded this M5.6-category explosion near the eastern limb of the sun.

The source of the blast was sunspot AR2151. As the movie shows, an instability in the suspot’s magnetic canopy hurled a dense plume of plasma into space. If that plasma cloud were to hit Earth, the likely result would be strong geomagnetic storms. However, because of the sunspot’s location near the edge of the solar disk, Earth was not in the line of fire.

Even so, the flare did produce some Earth effects. A pulse of extreme UV radiation from the explosion partially ionized our planet’s upper atmosphere, resulting in a Sudden Ionospheric Disturbance (SID). Waves of ionization altered the normal propagation of VLF (very low frequency) radio transmissions over the the dayside of Earth, an effect recorded at the Polarlightcenter in Lofoten, Norway: data.

Credit: NASA/SDO


Solar Flare.

The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 7:24 p.m. EST on Dec. 19, 2014. The gif above was generated by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly.

Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however – when intense enough – they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.

To see how this event may affect Earth, please visit NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center at, the U.S. government’s official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings.

This flare is classified as an X1.8-class flare. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc.

These gifs were created from this video, it is public domain and can be downloaded at:

NASA Goddard. Logikblok Blog.

(In reference to this post.)


This is an optical image of Saturn, visible to the naked eye. Look at this badass, spinning calmly on while millions of chunks of ice rocket around it.

Now this is an ultraviolet image of Saturn. The universe liked it so much that it not only put a giant ring around the planet’s middle, it also decided to ring the poles.

Unlike Jupiter, the auroras aren’t created by volcanic moons spewing charged articles into the atmosphere. In fact, Saturn’s auroras are much more like Earth’s—they’re caused by solar wind, which crashes charged particles into the outer atmosphere. The planet’s magnetic field guides these particles to the poles, where their interactions create a swirling, colourful glow, at high-altitudes of over a thousand kilometres above the cloud tops.

However, Saturn’s auroras can only be seen in ultraviolet light—so they’re invisible to the human eye until equipment sensitive to ultraviolet radiation captures images of them. The images we’ve captured show the evolution of ripples and patterns independent of the planet’s rotation, as well as both regularities and variations of local brightening. This indicates that Saturn’s auroras are basically a giant tug-of-war between the planet’s magnetic field and the solar wind.

And now an extra bit of eye-candy:

This image shows Saturn’s north pole, but it’s a composite image of two different wavelenths—it was captured by both Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer. The blue shows the aurora, capturing high-altitude emissions from atmospheric molecules that are excited by the solar wind’s charged particles, while the red shows escaping heat generated in the Saturn’s warm interior.

Space weather is GLORIOUS.

(Image Credit: NASA)

Sun Unleashes THREE Record X-Class Flares

The weekend ended with the biggest solar flare of the year — an X-class flare measuring X1.7. X-class flares are the most energetic type of flare, but an X1.7 is at the lower end of that scale. Obviously disappointed by its 2013 personal best, the sun let rip with not one, but TWO more X-class flares within 24 hours, each bigger than the last.

The X1.7 erupted at 9:17 p.m. EST (Sunday), and then a X2.8 followed-up at 11:09 a.m. EST (Monday). Then, the biggest flare completed the hat-trick at 8:17 p.m. EST with a new 2013 record of X3.2. The largest flare of the day is nearly 3 times more energetic than the first X1.7 flare.


The sun is a huge thermo-nuclear reactor, fusing hydrogen atoms into helium and producing million degree temperatures and intense magnetic fields. The outer layer of the sun near its surface is like a pot of boiling water, with bubbles of hot, electrified gas—electrons and protons in a fourth state of matter known as plasma—circulating up from the interior and bursting out into space. The steady stream of particles blowing away from the sun is known as the solar wind.

  • For more information click here.

Credit: NASA/SDO


//A severe solar storm reached the Earth on Tuesday. Two blasts of magnetic plasma left the sun on Sunday, eventually combining and arriving on Earth on Tuesday about 15 hours earlier and much stronger than expected, said Thomas Berger, director of the Space Weather Prediction Centre in Boulder, Colorado


The Sun Today: Solar Facts and Space Weather

How would you like to understand a fundamental process
happening throughout the universe?

You can! The mission is studying magnetic reconnection, which happens in the atmosphere of stars, planets with magnetic fields and exotic objects across the universe such as black holes and neutron stars. MMS will unlock the answers on a small-scale using Earth as a laboratory. Scientists will share these discoveries with us, and then we too, will understand the process that happens on small and big scales, happening from close to home to the farthest reaches of the universe.

These images show some of the phenomena caused by release of energy through magnetic reconnection, a coronal mass ejection (SDO), a solar flare (SDO), the aurora, a black hole accretion disk flares, nebula around a neutron star (the last 2 are artist impressions.) credit: NASA…/mms-studying-earths-magnetic-…/

Our Geospace Environment

Earth’s space environment is subject to severe episodic changes that are correlated with specific heliospheric disturbances. Like terrestrial weather, severe space weather can have disruptive and even destructive effects that must be mitigated. Effective mitigation requires characterization of the geospace environment in both its quiescent and disturbed states, an understanding of the physical processes that are involved in disturbed conditions (e.g., the acceleration of radiation belt electrons during magnetic storms), and, ultimately, the ability to forecast space weather events accurately. As in the case of terrestrial meteorology, global measurements and large-scale numerical modeling are required. The geospace environment poses a particularly challenging problem because the magnetosphere is a vast, three-dimensional structure whose distant components can be coupled quickly and directly by plasma phenomena such as field-aligned currents.

Despite the wide variety of data that can be used to specify and predict space weather, critical gaps in understanding have been identified. Some of the strongest effects of severe magnetospheric storms are produced by radiation belt particles, which often appear spontaneously and without precursors. The important energization and transport processes for these particles are not understood, primarily because with single satellites, changes in the particle distribution functions and electric and magnetic fields in the inner magnetosphere are measured at satellite orbital periods rather than at particle drift periods. Multiple spacecraft are needed to describe more fully the inner magnetospheric particle and field environment on appropriate time scales. Similarly, multipoint measurements are also needed in the ionosphere, where global changes occur on time scales that are short compared with the orbital periods and on spatial scales that are smaller than the longitudinal orbit spacing of even low-altitude satellites. To address these needs, the LWS Geospace Network will contain both a radiation-belt component and an ionosphere-thermosphere component, with each component consisting of two spacecraft.

The Sun to the Earth – and Beyond: A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics

Triple Whammy on the Energy Front

This week is a huge build up of energy because we are preparing for the Super New Moon, Total Solar Eclipse AND the Vernal Equinox all on the same day, March 20th!

I expect the energy to be a little more rampant than usual…Eclipses have a tendency to bring up emotional issues and CHANGE. They aren’t always light because they are known to shake things up, pushing new ideas and revelations into our heads which can cause the resistance of letting go. I see this as that huge opening that’s been accumulating since christmas. Eclipses not only usher in external change but they also usher internal change within the mind. So you might suddenly find yourself retracing your steps or wanting to take a new direction. They can feel similar to retrogrades because they push us into new territory and sometimes even the unknown. It’s comes from a place of deep internal change where eclipses really push our barriers and get us thinking outside of the box. Given this eclipse is also in alignment with the equinox and a Super New Moon, it’s probably going to be very potent as all super moons are due to the change of the tides of the ocean. 

Also on top of everything else that is coming there is the Uranus Square Pluto making it’s final comeback right before this triple whammy alignment on the 16th of March. So next week is bound to be pretty rocky, especially compared to the quiet we’ve been having the past few months. Looks like the middle of March is ready to push the button and really encase the meaning of the Equinox: New Beginnings.


Storms in other worlds.

Earth is not the only world with storms in our Solar System, and in many cases, even our most destructive storms are pipsqueaks compared to our neighboring worlds.
Venus, with its runaway greenhouse effect has clouds of CO2 and likely lots of lightning.
Mars is known for its dust storms, some are so huge that they will pose threats to future astronauts on Mars. Pictured is a simple dust devil.
The Jovian Giants are full of storms. Jupiter’s big red spot is perhaps the most famous, but the other gas giants are no stranger to epic storms that last many years.
Titan has a dense atmopshere and has an abundance of methane. There are storm systems that rain liquid methane. This means there are vast seas and rivers of methane too.

Solar activity ramps up as giant sunspot group turns to face Earth

The Sun is finally acting like it’s in solar maximum. Our Sun has emitted dozens of solar flares in since Oct. 23, 2013, with at least six big X-class flares. Just today it blasted out a X1.1 flare at 04:32 UT (11:32 p.m. EST on Nov. 7, 2013). While old Sol had been fairly quiet for the time where it was supposed to be active in its normal 11-year cycle, only recently has activity ramped up with increased flares and sunspots. During 2013, there has been intermittent strong activity (like this and this in May), but the activity since mid-October is really the first extended period of activity.

Speaking of sunspots, a huge group called designated as AR 1890 has turned to face Earth. Thanks to astrophotographer Ron Cottrell for capturing the group today, above. reports that this sunspot has a trend of producing very brief flares. The X1-flare today was no exception as it lasted barely a minute. NOAA is forecasting a 60% chance of M-class solar flares and a 20% chance of X-flares on Nov. 8th from this sunspot group.

Image credit: Ron Cottrell

Earth Needs Better Preparation For Massive Solar Storm, Scientist Says

Policy makers in the U.S. need to get serious about the threat posed by solar storms. So says Dr. Daniel Baker, a University of Colorado solar scientist with significant expertise in sun storms – like the huge one the sun fired off in July 2012.

“My space weather colleagues believe that until we have an event that slams Earth and causes complete mayhem, policy makers are not going to pay attention,” Baker, director of the university’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, said in a written statement. “The message we are trying to convey is that we made direct measurements of the 2012 event and saw the full consequences without going through a direct hit on our planet.”

The high-energy particles liberated by a major flare could disrupt transportation, communication, and financial systems in addition to limiting the availability of food, medications, and drinking water, according to a 2008 National Resource Council report, which Baker co-authored.

Baker isn’t alone in his concern over the risk posed by solar storms. A 2013 report from the Royal Academy of Engineering in London called for the creation of a space weather board to help plan for a solar superstorm. It also called for a system to warn of dangerous space weather radiation.

What exactly is Baker proposing? That the 2012 event be adopted as “the best estimate of the worst case space weather scenario” and be used to create models to predict the effects such a storm would have on power grids and other vulnerable systems.

[Source: “Officials Meet In Washington To Discuss Solar Storms, Great and Small”]

The 2012 solar storm largely missed Earth but could have been highly disruptive if radiation from it had given the planet a direct hit, Baker said. The area of the sun that produced the solar explosion was facing away from us, but just a week earlier that same area was pointed right at Earth, he said.

The 2012 event was also alarming to Baker for the speed at which the radiation it produced traveled through space. Generally, coronal mass ejections take two to three days to reach Earth, but the 2012 ejection reached Earth in 18 hours.

“The speed of this event was as fast or faster than anything that has been seen in the modern space age,” Baker said in the statement. “The event not only had the most powerful CME ever recorded, but it would have triggered one of the strongest geomagnetic storms and the highest density of particle fluctuation ever seen in a typical solar cycle, which lasts roughly 11 years.”

The largest solar storm on record is believed to be the so-called “Carrington event” in 1859 – an event that reportedly set telegraph machines ablaze and caused auroras borealis so bright that people could read well into the night. Yet there’s speculation that the 2012 CME was likely even more powerful.

“The Carrington storm and the 2012 event show that extreme space weather events can happen even during a modest solar cycle like the one presently underway,” Baker said. “Rather than wait and pick up the pieces, we ought to take lessons from these events to prepare ourselves for inevitable future solar storms.”

Source: HuffPost|SCIENCE

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View of Aurora Australis from Space

From space, the aurora is a crown of light that circles each of Earth’s poles. The IMAGE satellite captured this view of the aurora australis on September 11, 2005, four days after a record-setting solar flare sent plasma—an ionized gas of protons and electrons—flying towards the Earth. The ring of light that the solar storm generated over Antarctica glows green in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum, shown in this image. The IMAGE observations of the aurora are overlaid onto NASA’s satellite-based Blue Marble image. From the Earth’s surface, the ring would appear as a curtain of light shimmering across the night sky.


Narrowly Avoiding Global Blackout: Earth Just Missed the Most Powerful Solar Flare Ever Recorded

According to a new report from NASA, the Earth barely escaped a massive solar storm that could have knocked “modern civilization back to the 18th century.” On July 23, 2012, two giant plasma clouds, known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), erupted from the sun to form an unusually large solar storm. At the time, the earth was facing away from the blast of the CMEs. However, if the flares had occurred one week earlier, the electromagnetic ejections would have caused trillions of dollars of damage to the planet. NASA reported: “Analysts believe that a direct hit by an extreme CME such as the one that missed Earth in July 2012 could cause widespread power blackouts, disabling everything that plugs into a wall socket. Most people wouldn’t even be able to flush their toilet because urban water supplies largely rely on electric pumps.” Physicists were particularly surprised by the strength of the CME given that the sun is in its weakest solar cycle in a century

The Sun is having a party… and it looks like we’re invited! Eek!

Continuing its increasingly active trend, the sun erupted with an X-class solar flare on Thursday. Only last week, another active region (AR1515) delivered an impressive parting shot – an X1.1 flare – as it rotated toward the solar limb. Today’s more energetic X1.4 flare however was directed right at us.

Read more…

Just saw this on

It’s pretty awesome

Check out the gif here:
It is well worth it.
I would upload it, but my internet times out when I upload big things.

 A magnetic prominence dancing along the sun’s southeastern limb became unstable on Nov. 15th and slowly erupted. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the event, which unfolded over a period of thirteen hours.

The eruption hurled a cloud of plasma (CME) toward Venus. According to a forecast track created by analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the cloud should reach the second planet on Nov. 17th. Venus has no global magnetic field to protect it from CMEs. The impact will likely strip a small amount of atmosphere from the planet’s cloudtops. 

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