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Epic Geomagnetic Storm Erupts

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the good-name-for-a-candy-bar dept.

Space 80

astroengine writes "On Monday, at around 2 p.m. ET, a coronal mass ejection (CME) slammed into the Earth's magnetosphere. For a short time (between 3:06 p.m and 3:11 p.m. ET), energetic solar wind particles penetrated as deep as geosynchronous orbit — home to hundreds of communication satellites. As a consequence, a geomagnetic storm is underway, generating bright aurorae across very low latitudes." Adds reader dtmos, quoting from Spaceweather, which also has a beautiful photo gallery: "'The impact strongly compressed Earth's magnetic field, directly exposing geosynchronous satellites to solar wind plasma, and sparked an intense geomagnetic storm. As night fell over North America, auroras spilled across the Canadian border into the contiguous United States.' Aurora were seen as far south as Baileyton, Alabama."

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80 comments

A little late (5, Insightful)

farnham (160656) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830076)

If this had been posted YESTERDAY some of us might have gotten up early to see those Aurorae

Re:A little late (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830230)

I hasd the same thought. But clouds meant i wouldnt have seem it anyways. Anyone know how long this will last?

Re:A little late (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830506)

Anyone know of an Android App that will give Aurora alerts similar to how weather apps give alerts for thunderstorms/frost/etc? This is the 3rd Aurora in like 2 months up here in Alberta and it would be awesome to get warnings.

Re:A little late (3, Informative)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830664)

I don't know of an app, but this website offers alerts via twitter than can also go to your mobile. It's only for the UK so possibly not helpful for you in Alberta, but putting on here in case it's useful for UK readers.

http://aurorawatch.lancs.ac.uk/alerts

There's an app -- 3D Sun (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 2 years ago | (#37833428)

The free NASA "3D Sun" iphone app will give notices of CMEs if you allow it:

        http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/17feb_3dsun/ [nasa.gov]

There are a few Android apps that get SDO and other space weather data, but I don't know which ones of those will generate alerts rather than you have to go and actively look at them.

(disclaimer : I work for the Solar Data Analysis Center)

Re:A little late (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836126)

You can have it alert you via twitter or email. Aurorawatch's alert was sent out at 5:05 pm Pacific (8:05 pm Eastern). Still not a lot of lead time, so you definitely want it sent to your phone. If it was sent to your email and you don't get email notification on your phone, you probably didn't see it until this morning. Alas for me, the skies in Southern California were overcast.

Re:A little late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832762)

Anyone know of an Android App that will give Aurora alerts similar to how weather apps give alerts for thunderstorms/frost/etc? This is the 3rd Aurora in like 2 months up here in Alberta and it would be awesome to get warnings.

Subscribe to www.aurorawatch.ca

Re:A little late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832788)

SolarisAlpha

Re:A little late (2)

PeterChenoweth (603694) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830662)

If you rely on Slashdot for breaking news, then yes, it's a little late.

If you're interested in catching the Aurora, there are several online resources that can alert you in various ways when conditions are favorable. The best one I know of is SpaceWeather.com, though they charge for the alerting service. I'm just on their free mailing list and they sent me an email yesterday at about 4:30 pm with a warning that a large CME had struck the earth yesterday morning and to be alert for aurora that evening. The peak of the show was at about 9pm here, so plenty of warning time. Not quite the same as the paid "get outside now!" alerts, but it works.

It was definitely visible here in Illinois. Though I've seen much better. You didn't miss much. Near the last solar max, we had a couple of spectacular aurora displays.

Re:A little late (2)

arielCo (995647) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830718)

Sorry pal, /. is not known for timeliness. Consider that all the material comes from us readers, who must first see it in other media and submit it, and then editors have to pick it from the "Firehose". Look at how long it takes since big news like Gadafi's death hit the big media and it shows up on /.'s front page.

Re:A little late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831364)

Indeed. I understand when people complain about 8 year old news. But /. is not, and never has been a breaking-news site. It's a discussion site for the stuff you already know about or might have missed.

I can only monitor so many sites in a day, even with a news reader. I use /. to clean up on stuff I missed elsewhere or want to see a little intelligent feedback on. When it fails to do that, then I whine.

Re:A little late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831098)

Here I am in Seattle on one of the few mornings with no clouds in the sky and in a perfect position to catch a glimpse of them... and I find out about it a day too late. Thanks slashdot!

Re:A little late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832506)

Are you implying that the story should have been reported on before it actually happened, so that when it actually did happen you would have had a chance to see it?

Re:A little late (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37833266)

If you cared, you would be getting a news feed from the proper space agency, not relying on /.

Re:A little late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37838778)

And as usual, when there's this kind of event. Rain is pouring all the evening and night.

Wahaha! (0)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830080)

a coronal mass ejection (CME) slammed into the Earth's magnetosphere. Tsingi makes some popcorn...

False. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830114)

False. It was caused by global warming.

We won't get to read about a truly "epic" CME (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830144)

So let's try to keep a lid on the Hollywood hyperbole, shall we?

Re:We won't get to read about a truly "epic" CME (1)

anlag (1917070) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830390)

True enough. On a related note, the word "epic" in the headline really does nothing for me. Maybe I'm anal but I don't think it's appropriate language to use in news reporting. "Large" or whatever would be sufficient. Or simply omitting the adjective entirely.

Re:We won't get to read about a truly "epic" CME (1)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830510)

3 billion pounds of material traveling at 2000 miles/sec and blasting entire planets isn't epic for you ? You have a pretty high standard for epic.

Re:We won't get to read about a truly "epic" CME (1)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830588)

3 billion pounds of material traveling at 2000 miles/sec and blasting entire planets isn't epic for you ? You have a pretty high standard for epic.

Correct. We do have a high standard of 'epic'. 3 billion pounds of material travelling at 2000 miles/sec is large, but it's not massively unusual and therefore not epic. Unfortunately you, and the mass media don't, so epic is being used whenever anyone gets slightly excited about anything these days. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/epic [thefreedictionary.com]

Re:We won't get to read about a truly "epic" CME (1)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830952)

3. heroic; majestic; impressively great: the epic events of the war.
Lighting up the planets northern hemisphere isn't impressive ? or majestic ?
The word you are looking for to describe a very very rare coronal mass ejection hitting the earth isn't epic its cataclysmic.

Re:We won't get to read about a truly "epic" CME (1)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831156)

Lighting up the planets northern hemisphere isn't impressive ? or majestic ?

So by your definition, all auroras are epic? This was a big aurora - no argument. But it's not as 'impressively great' as to be called 'epic' because auroras like this happen once every year-or-so (more now that we are approaching a solar maximum). If it was the biggest, most impressive aurora in about 50 years then maybe it could be described as epic, but it wasn't - in fact, there was one just a month ago: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2042428/Best-auroras-seen-Britain-thanks-huge-solar-flares.html [dailymail.co.uk]

Re:We won't get to read about a truly "epic" CME (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831232)

As far south as California, Arkansas, etc?

No...they don't happen THAT big that often. It was a pretty hot solar storm.

Re:We won't get to read about a truly "epic" CME (2)

agentgonzo (1026204) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831324)

http://www.spaceweather.com/aurora/gallery.html:

2000: the most powerful geomagnetic storm since 1989 sparked Northern Lights as far south as Florida
2001: There are many dates when Northern Lights were sighted as far south as Texas, Florida, Arizona--even Mexico
2002: Another date of note: April 19 when Northern Lights descended as far south as California
2003: Auroras appeared in Florida, Texas, Australia and many other places where they are seldom seen
2004: Northern Lights descended as far south as California during an extreme geomagnetic storm
2005: sparking auroras from Alaska to Antarctica and many rare places in between [including California - follow the link]
2006: The best display occured on Dec. 14th when a coronal mass ejection hit Earth, sparking Northern Lights as far south as Arizona.

That webpage only goes from 2000-2006, so yes, they DO happen that often.

Re:We won't get to read about a truly "epic" CME (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37833246)

Not really, no. It's a regular event. uncommon size would be better... but even that's a stretch.

The fact that you aren't aware of the science doesn't mean the event is epic.

And yu can be ipc, AND cataclysmic...but you can be epic and not cataclysmic as well. There TWO different things.

This post?now THAT'S epic.

Re:We won't get to read about a truly "epic" CME (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830590)

It's not that is wasn't impressive, it's that word "epic" has no place in journalism.

Re:We won't get to read about a truly "epic" CME (3, Insightful)

slackbheep (1420367) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831128)

Sounds about as epic as 17500000000000000000 h2o molecules striking your face, in a raindrop.

Re:We won't get to read about a truly "epic" CME (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37832106)

Sounds about as epic as 17500000000000000000 h2o molecules striking your face, in a raindrop.

According to

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090413123841AAP8lWw [yahoo.com]

your number falls short by an order of magnitude. There are actually 1,700,000,000,000,000,000,000 H2O molecules in a raindrop.

Re:We won't get to read about a truly "epic" CME (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830552)

I was thinking "Internet meme", but I basically agree that it's unprofessional.

Re:We won't get to read about a truly "epic" CME (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37834130)

You expect "professional?" You must be new here.

The one night i am not driving around till 7am. (1)

lostthoughts54 (1696358) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830170)

and this happens. i live in Alabama and seeing this has always been a dream of mine. Had this only been posted 6 or 7 hours ago.

Re:The one night i am not driving around till 7am. (1)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830354)

Well since the aurora is a Canadian phenomenon, expect a bill from us for the show. The fact that you slept through it is irrelevant..

Re:The one night i am not driving around till 7am. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830456)

Canadian phenomenon? We in Alaska would disagree.

Re:The one night i am not driving around till 7am. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831030)

Ye, we got it over in Europe too, you know...

Re:The one night i am not driving around till 7am. (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831392)

Yeah, but isn't it in PAL over there?

Re:The one night i am not driving around till 7am. (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 2 years ago | (#37836014)

NTSC is better, since it means "never twice same color".
Novelty is awesome! Or epic.

Epic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830174)

So "epic" that it didn't do any noticeable damage. Wake me when we get a real CME.

And yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830176)

The world did not come to an end, the electric grid was unfazed and no sattelite seems to have been effected.

Tense problems. (-1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830214)

This occurred yesterday.

Past tense, so it would be "erupted" instead of "erupts."

Silly Slashdot editors.

--
BMO

Was not is (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830226)

a geomagnetic storm is underway

"was" not "is"

I was hoping to do some ham radio work on the 6 meter band using that, but I'm way too late, or so I'm told.

Re:Was not is (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37831276)

I've never worked auroral propagation but have read that it sounds like being underwater. On a side note, I didn't notice any disturbance in the force yesterday. Activity did seem to be down from the weekend but I still managed to work T32C again (CW and RTTY) and picked up TX7M (RTTY). Come on Sol, get busier!

First time northern lights viewer here.... (2)

awfar (211405) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830498)

I live in a rural area with little light pollution and where I can clearly see the milky way - and it was quite a sight. All I'll say is that when you see it the first time, unprepared as I was, it can be disconcerting and even alarming. You know something powerfully primitive is occurring, not normal; I imagine like an animal responding to a forest fire.

Re:First time northern lights viewer here.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830814)

Hey idiot. Milky way != aurora from CME. Not even fucking close.

Re:First time northern lights viewer here.... (2)

Calos (2281322) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830910)

I think, by mentioning the Milky Way, (s)he was trying to emphasize how clear the viewing conditions normally are where (s)he lives; and that therefore the aurora was extremely vivid, given the lack of light pollution and whatnot.

Re:First time northern lights viewer here.... (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830916)

Hey bigger idiot. He didn't say the Milky Way was an aurora. He was stating he lives in a rural area where the Milky Way can be seen. It was giving context to how clear the night sky is and seeing the aurora.

Fucking dumbass.

Re:First time northern lights viewer here.... (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831228)

I'm surprised that he was unable to read awfar's post that way. It seems pretty flippin' obvious. It is amazing how quickly people are able to set aside their own intelligence when the opportunity arises to insult another's.

TV Reception (1)

A10Mechanic (1056868) | more than 2 years ago | (#37830514)

I got up this morning, and my over-the-air reception of local stations was severely disrupted. I did however, pick up stations from 250 miles away in Saint Louis. Now I know that Saint Louis stations are only slightly less boring than Kansas City Stations... Thanks CME!

Re:TV Reception (1)

storkus (179708) | more than 2 years ago | (#37840674)

If those stations were on VHF, the aurora might have had something to do with it; however, if they're on UHF, it had nothing to do with it and it was most likely tropospheric ducting, which is common in the Midwest.

I saw this last night (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37830616)

I guess this explains what I saw last night in SE Virginia. I happened to walk outside and look to the north and the sky was all red. It was very strange, glowing red. One of my neighbors was outside and I asked him if he saw it too, he did. Got my wife and kids out, they didn't last real long, there were streaks of dark that looked almost like straight lines running 'down' reddened sky. It was very odd, kinda creepy looking, and then a "shooting star", pretty long lasting one happened to streak down the sky running parralel with the dark streaks. I figured the "shooting star" was unrelated, but it sure was coincidental. I checked back many times last night and didn't see it any more.

Re:I saw this last night (1)

Bucc5062 (856482) | more than 2 years ago | (#37831026)

Now that's funny, I did not see any colors, but while talking with my cousin @ 7:30 PM I looked up and saw a object streak across the sky with a long trail behind it (I live north east of Atlanta, GA). He joked that it was the German satellite though I though it had crashed by now. My thought was alien invasion and finally, we have something to take our minds off the drivel coming from Washington on how they will make our lives better. Nothing like aliens to shake up the status quo.

So reality may be more boring, just a couple billion tons of star stuff slamming into the planet. It was something to witness for I've not seen such a streak across the sky like this...hmmm...I think I'll stick with aliens, makes the day more interesting.

Re:I saw this last night (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832096)

Kinda funny. I was up in far north canada up until about 2 days ago, I got in around 10pm last night in Ontario, after an 11hr drive. Didn't see squat. While up north people said they saw them occasionally, but nope not while I was there. Not when I got back. Most of the time though, it's either raining or cloudy here when they're up. Ah well maybe there will be slim chance of seeing something tonight but I'm not holding my breath. Good thin I'm heading back up to the far northern wasteland for 10 weeks, I might see something. But knowing my luck, it'll just start snowing and not stop.

Wow - Aurora in Central Carolina!!! (2)

RapidEye (322253) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832212)

Yesterday was the opening of the Mid-Atlantic Star Party near Robbins, NC.
While we were getting gear set up yesterday afternoon someone had a C-11 with a white light filter and a Solarmax 60 riding piggy back.
Both showed a TON of activity on the sun - filaments, sun spots, and some huge prominences. Little did we know we would get a solar show after dark!
About 9:30 PM EDT the transparency was good but seeing was still soft. When we wondered who threw on a big light to the north of the field - all of a sudden everything got bright up there.
Since aurora's are so uncommon this far south, it took us a minute to figure out what was going on.
It gave us a really nice show and rose up fairly high between Cassiopeia and Polaris with another large band pushing up west of Polaris.
We had sheeting red with some green pillars shooting up. There were about 75 of us just standing around the observing field, slack-jawed with the occasional ohhh and ahh =-)
A couple folks got on their cell phones and we had observers all around central NC out and reporting visual confirmation from their locations.
We had a very solid show for about 20 minutes with residual lower level observations coming and going for probably another 20 minutes.
Quite a remarkable start for a star party! =-)

Which is why fiber is a Good Thing. (2)

Commontwist (2452418) | more than 2 years ago | (#37832250)

Seriously, the telecomms are sloooowly moving on fiber-optic lines. Should have been serious starts on that years ago as a backup to satellites at the very least. One super-epic flare and kiss those satellites good bye, no matter how hardened they are, and they will take months if not years to completely replace. What do you do in the meantime? Oops?

On the plus side, though, all the spy sats in the world would also be fried. Always a silver lining....

Re:Which is why fiber is a Good Thing. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37833174)

Super-epic flare? What are you, a 11 year old child? How about you look at what we know,as well as what the super - epic* CME would so to the earth.

Ah, it was an unthinking rant to put in a jab about 'Spy' satellites.

*again, WTF?

Re:Which is why fiber is a Good Thing. (1)

Commontwist (2452418) | more than 2 years ago | (#37840320)

The 'super-epic flare' was a subtle bit of sarcasm in regards to the 'epic flare' of the posted story. The flare was unusual but not something most familiar with CMEs would consider 'epic'. I suppose it was too subtle for you to pick up and thus I apologize. Insulting me over something that petty (and for my 'rant' that backups are a good thing?), however, is more an indication of your age being closer towards the single digits than mine.

Re:Which is why fiber is a Good Thing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37833698)

Good luck with your fiber when the power is out.

epic indeed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37835642)

Everything is epic that we miss. It's one of the incontrovertible laws of physics.

i used to have those all the time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37851334)

when i was 16

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