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The Sun

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The Sun

Posted by Astrid Ohlmeier at 15:56 on 2012 Oct 05

Hi Solar Members / Experts of the SunI would like to know whether dangerous solar flares are expected during the next few months, especially in December. A massive coronal ejection can be very dangerous to life on Earth. Electricity and technology can fail around the entire planet. To restore everything would take ages. I know that the magnetosphere is a protective shield. Would it protect us from very large, massive flares heading straight to Earth? There was a blackout in 2003 in Canada. Caused by a CME coronal mass ejection?The Carrington Flare of 1859: The next day, the charged plasma flung out by the sun reached Earth. It lit up the entire northern hemisphere, right down to Hawaii and Rome. There were also reports of magnetic disturbances: compasses went haywire during the bombardment. More seriously, the solar storm battered the world's infant communication network. Telegraph wires burst into flames.Nowadays planes and hospitals are all computerised. A CME towards Earth would cause disaster. Do we have the technology to predict such CME? Would the News let us know of the forthcoming danger? That we can switch all our electronic equipment off.

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Re:The Sun

Posted by Callum Potter at 14:19 on 2012 Oct 09

Hello Astrid,I don't think we have any sort of accurate information that could give us a 'solar weather' forecast which could predict what the Sun will do in the next 24 hours, let alone in the next few months.Where there has been an earth directed CME the satellites such as ACE will pick it up before it reaches the earth, but even then the effects are still difficult to predict with any accuracy.The NOAA Space Weather Centre is set up to monitor CME's etc. and alert satellite operators if there is need to shutdown or change their attitude. On earth, i think its very difficult to predict what impact a major event like a Carrington event might have today - but I am sure 'we' are not as prepared as we might be. But then we are equally as un-prepared for an asteroid impact, which might be at same sort of probability.Callum

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Re:The Sun

Posted by Astrid Ohlmeier at 17:26 on 2012 Oct 19

Thanks for the infos, Callum. Very useful for my research. I included your info to my website (Blog), which I update on a regular basis. www.planetaryscience.weebly.comAstrid

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Re:The Sun

Posted by Marlyn Smith at 12:29 on 2012 Nov 07

Sorry I'm a bit late in replying to your question and Callum has given you an excellent answer. I can only add that the current solar Cycle is a quiet one, probably the quietest we've seen in a 100 years. Solar flares are still happening of course but it is not possible to predict when something extraordinary will occur. Sunspot groups are monitored and a close watch is kept on complex groups that could be candidates for X ray flares so that vital equipment can be shut down hopefully in time to prevent or at least minimise damage.The danger doesn't come so much from direct harm done to life on the Earth due to such a flare as the Sun has been firing off such events for 4.5 billion years and life has flourished ok. It is our technology that has become so vulnerable and our reliance upon it. It is probably the chaos that may ensue and possible civil unrest as a result that could be the problem should electricty/communications etc be knocked out for any length of time.Interestingly NASA scientists have some evidece that the Sun could be on the verge of going into another quiet phase similar to the Maunder Minimum from 1645 to 1715. If so, then our worries of devasting flares will be minimal for the foreseeable!