Wednesday, May 15, 2013

High Potential for X-class Solar Flares in next 48 hours

This is a great website ( that collects a lot of info from numerous sites and distills it for easy reading. Also includes some great video and animations.  Bottom line is that there is a very energetic sunspot turning toward earth over the next few days. Sun Spot number 1748 has a proven record of multiple X-class flares. An earth-directed X-class flare could briefly interrupt electronic signals or electrical service in some areas. includes a 'map' of the side
of the sun facing earth and any sunspots present

A solar flare has two potential impacts elements that can affect our planet.  The first is from the 'ray' type emissions that are emitted during the flare.  These travel toward us near the speed of light and usually hit and are gone within a few hours.  The next impact is from the actual charged particles that are emitted.  This is usually called a Coronal Mass Ejection or CME. The name is just what it says: mass from the Sun's corona is ejected. It gets shot out faster than a speeding bullet. These 'clouds' of protons and or electrons (possibly other particles) can take a couple of days to arrive and monkey with the earth and the atmosphere.  I don't pretend to understand the physics of it all, but know it can cause problems. Usually just static on your sell or radio. A large X-class is hypothesized to do more, from messing with your vehicle's electronics to shorting out the national power grid. 

The 'magnitude' of solar flares that have meaningful potential to goof with our electronics are normally the M and X classes. These usually are only a problem if the sunspot with the emission is positioned facing toward the earth.  Right now the smart guys are predicting a 60% chance of another X class flare within both the next 24 and 48 hours, with an 80% chance for M class flares in the same period. It may be as much as 48 hours before 1748 is in prime position to 'aim' directly toward earth (more like #1744 is on the above map).

Not trying to frighten, just to educate.  This site, especially if you explore some of the links and visit several times a week, is very educational.  When you read of Electromagnetic Pulses (EMP), the 'natural' kind is normally considered a possibility as associated with a large solar flare, such as an X5 or greater that is also earth-directed. 
Aurora oval map from Spaceweather and NOAA

For those of you living in the northern US border states, this is a great site to help predict when you might see the aurora borealis! The have a map for that!

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