The Sun is definitely waking up

After a prolonged “solar minimum,”  with record long periods without sunspots, the Sun has become extremely active again.  These periods of solar maximum alternating with solar minimum are a normal part of solar activity but the last solar minimum was particularly long: 12.4 years rather than the usual 11 years.

A positive effect of the delay in the return of sunspot activity is that the maximum period will not coincide with December 2012 as previously feared.  This was one of the explanations for the fearmongering surrounding the December 2012 date, but it’s now behind schedule and the maximum of the maximum period likely won’t arrive until 2013 or 2014.

In the meantime, Spaceweather reports that “the entire Earth-facing side of the Sun erupted in a tumult of activity” with a C3-class flare, a solar tsunami, radio bursts, coronal mass ejection (CME) and more.  The impact of the CME hit the Earth’s magnetic field today at 1:30 pm EDT.

It’s interesting (but not necessarily significant) that this burst of solar energy comes when there’s a lot of planetary energy anyway with Mars and Saturn facing off against Jupiter and Uranus.

CMEs can sometimes affect communication satellites and power grids, but this C-class flares typically do not create a lot of problems.  But those in northern latitudes may be treated to some nice auroras!

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By |2019-05-11T07:35:27-04:00August 3rd, 2010|Astronomy, Sun|Comments Off on The Sun is definitely waking up

The Sun is waking up


solar flare
Recent solar flare

Solar scientists met last week to discuss the higher levels of solar activity that are likely as we move out of the Solar Minimum of the past few years.  The head of NASA’s Heliophysics Division says “our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms.”

Spaceweather reports an M2-class flare on June 12th that hurled a billion-ton coronal mass ejection into space, and a new sunspot has emerged with a series of its own eruptions.   Solar flares have been connected with weather extremes, and there have been some powerful lightning storms over the past few days.

There are proven connections between Jupiter and sunspots, so the fact that the Sun is erupting into flares at the time that Jupiter conjoins Uranus in the fiery sign of Aries is an interesting coincidence.

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By |2018-06-11T12:14:04-04:00June 13th, 2010|Astronomy, Sun|1 Comment

Low solar activity linked to cool UK winter

Last year’s cold winter sparked a huge resurgence into the global warming debate.  If the earth is warming, why did we have a cold winter?

We’ve been in a “Solar Minimum” since about 2006, a long period with virtually no solar activity.  I’ve been writing about this for quite some time in these pages as you’ll see from these links.  Much of the hysteria over 2012 stems from the fact that we were due for a Solar Maximum period in 2012 which could create chaos in communication systems and electrical grids, but the extended minimum period, which ended just this year, suggests that we won’t hit the Solar Maximum period now until at least 2014.

Researchers in the UK have now identified a link between low sunspot activity and atmospheric conditions on Earth.  This year’s winter, according to Professor Mike Lockwood, was the coldest in 160 years.  He attributes the connection to a phenomenon called “blocking” which involvles the movement of the jet stream of the northern hemisphere.

“If you haven’t got blocking, then the jet stream brings the mild, wet westerly winds to give us the weather we are famous for.”

But, he added, if the jet stream is “blocked”, and pushed further northwards, then cold, dry winds from the east flow over Europe, resulting in a sharp fall in temperatures.

“This… ‘blocking’ does seem to be one of the things that can be modulated by solar activity,” he said.

Recent studies suggest that when solar activity is low, “blocking” events move eastwards from above north-eastern North America towards Europe, and become more stable.

A prolonged “blocking” during the most recent winter was responsible for the long spell of freezing conditions that gripped Europe.

Written observations from […]

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By |2010-04-15T08:04:52-04:00April 15th, 2010|Astronomy|Comments Off on Low solar activity linked to cool UK winter

New Sunspot Cycle, Finally

Sunspot number 1035 is growing rapidly – according to Spaceweather it is now seven times wider than the Earth.  We have been in a Solar Minimum since 2006, and during this period the Sun has been much more quiet than in most Solar Minimums (or is that Minima?) – in fact, the deepest Solar Minimum in the 100 years that scientists have been recording solar activity.
At any rate, it does appear that solar activity has been increasing since September of this year.  One article reports that “[a]n unmistakable and persistent upward trend has emerged since September 2009 in the solar flux which has long been used as a barometer of the Sun’s output.”
If Google News is any indication, the new sunspot appears to be of interest primarily to amateur radio aficionados.  But for the rest of us there are interesting correlations to questions of slowing solar activity and its correlation to climate change.
Stay tuned for more reports!
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By |2009-12-16T15:21:09-05:00December 16th, 2009|Astronomy|Comments Off on New Sunspot Cycle, Finally

“Cosmic rays have hit a space age high”

No, it’s not science fiction!!

According to NASA, galactic cosmic rays have intensified 19% over the past 50 years.  Scientists believe that the cause of this increase is the solar minimum which began in 2007 and is still occurring.

The sun’s magnetic field is our first line of defense against these highly-charged, energetic particles. The entire solar system from Mercury to Pluto and beyond is surrounded by a bubble of magnetism called “the heliosphere.” It springs from the sun’s inner magnetic dynamo and is inflated to gargantuan proportions by the solar wind. When a cosmic ray tries to enter the solar system, it must fight through the heliosphere’s outer layers; and if it makes it inside, there is a thicket of magnetic fields waiting to scatter and deflect the intruder.

 

read more here

Because of the solar minimum, the Sun has lost some of its power to deflect the cosmic rays from Earth.  Scientists say that there’s nothing to worry about, and that hundreds of years ago the force of the cosmic rays was much worse.  Still, a correlation between the influx of cosmic radiation and an increased risk of cancer has been shown in recent studies. Other scientists suggest that an increase in cosmic rays is also associated with an increase in genetic diversity and the mutation of species.
From an astrological point […]
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By |2020-11-03T14:06:06-05:00October 6th, 2009|Astronomy|Comments Off on “Cosmic rays have hit a space age high”
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