Thursday, March 8, 2012

Massive "Solar Storm" Engulfing the Planet; So Far, So Good...

A massive solar flare-up took place on March 6th, as shown in the NASA images above and below...

This type of event is technically called a "Coronal Mass Ejection" or CME.  The event was believed to be one of the largest releases of solar energy in the last 5 years.  Such an occurrence can have damaging effects on key components of our infrastructure such as GPS, communications and electric power grids, etc.  It can also cause problems with cellphone and other wireless connections.

NASA scientists believe that the "fallout" reached the earth about 6:30 am EST this morning, and thus far there have been little to no major disruptions noted.

Interest (and in some cases, fear), of this type of an event has been peaked in recent months by popular documentary programs such as the "Doomsday Preppers".  One segment on the program recently featured a family that was preparing for a "massive solar storm" that would shut down the power grid and cut off all communication with the outside world.  Fortunately, it does not appear as though that will be the case with this particular event.

One positive that will likely come about as a result of the solar storm will be a much higher than normal chance of seeing an Aurora (also known as the "Northern Lights") across portions of the U.S.

The above photo was taken in Calgary, Alberta Canada yesterday evening.  

Depending on how the energy is distrubuted across the earth's electromagnetic field today, there could be a better than normal chance of folks across portions of the central and northern U.S. seeing the aurora tonight.  One forecast from the University of Alaska suggests that folks will be able to see the aurora as far South as parts of Kansas and Missouri, as shown by the solid green (bottom-most) line on the image below:

Folks within the white and green solid banded area to the North are already beneath prime aurora conditions, according the forecast.  You will have an excellent chance of viewing the Northern Lights this evening!

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