Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)

7/13/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Northern lights should be visible across northern US Saturday before dawn.

The sun has belched fire and it's headed straight for Earth. The belch, known technically as a coronal mass ejection (CME) will strike Earth sometime on Saturday, probably in the early morning. Is doomsday upon us?

The X-class flare photographed shooting directly at Earth.

The X-class flare photographed shooting directly at Earth.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/13/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Green

Keywords: Northern lights, aurora, coronal mass ejection, CME


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) Not hardly, for God in His infinite wisdom gave the Earth a magnetic field just strong enough to repulse such events. The event which is making headlines today occurred yesterday just after noon Universal Time (in the morning across the US). The CME is a normal, natural phenomenon that makes the northern lights (aurora) glow over high-latitude skies. 

However this event is especially notable for its strength and its aim. 

Our sun experiences an 11-year cycle of activity during which it becomes active, then quiet. During its active periods, scientists observe sunspots, which appear as black splotches on our star's surface. These black spots aren't really black, they just appear so because they are much cooler than the surrounding plasma that comprises the visible surface of the sun. These sunspots are created by twists in the sun's magnetic field. 

Occasionally, those magnetic field lines become so twisted that they break, and when they do, there is a chance a solar flare may erupt. A solar flare is a stream of charged particles from the sun that shoots into space. 

Yesterday's solar flare erupted from sunspot AR1515, and was rated as an X1.4 flare. In plain English, that means the flare was very powerful. Astronomers rate flares on a scale of B, C, M, and X with B being the weakest and X the strongest. 

The website, Spaceweather.com, which tracks these events, had this to say:

Because the sunspot is directly facing Earth, everything about the blast was geoeffective. For one thing, it hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) directly toward our planet. According to a forecast track prepared by analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the CME will hit Earth on July 14th around 10:20 UT (+/- 7 hours) and could spark strong geomagnetic storms. Sky watchers should be alert for auroras this weekend.

The good news for us on Earth is when these charged particles arrive, they will strike the planet's magnetic field, which acts as a shield. Instead of streaming radiation directly on the inhabitants of the planet, the charged particles race along the field towards the north and south magnetic poles. As they strike particles of gas in the upper atmosphere they "excite" them, causing them to glow. Those glowing particles of gas give us the northern (and southern) lights. 

When such an event occurs, it is known as a geomagnetic storm. In addition to brilliant displays of aurora, these charged particles can sometimes affect the power grid on the ground by charging power lines with electricity. In 1859, two telegraph operators famously communicated for two hours without being connected to a power source, and in 1989 a geomagnetic storm caused a blackout across Quebec, Canada when it impacted the local power grid. 

Today, scientists have better early warning systems in place and utility companies know how to manage their equipment in advance of such an impact, so any disruption is highly unlikely. 
The most common disruption is to air travel over high latitudes. High flying aircraft must take more southerly routes to avoid exposing passengers to additional radiation. 

For the most part, tomorrow's pending geomagnetic storm should provide a light show in the skies at least above the northern tier of the US. It is impossible to predict with accuracy just how far south the display will be visible, but it should be visible across a much wider area than usual. 

To see the storm, observers will want to be outdoors during the night, looking to their north. It also helps to be far away from city lights. The storm could strike as early as 3:20 am PDT (6:20 EDT), but it is more likely to start during the daytime on Saturday. The storm should continue for several hours and hopefuls across the US should watch for glowing skies around nightfall. By Sunday morning, the storm should be well past. 

The best observing locations will probably be in eastern Europe, where the storm should hit just before dark. 

If you don't see anything this weekend, don't fret. Solar activity is still increasing and will continue to increase until early 2013. There is a reasonable chance that we will see more such storms in the very near future. 

EDITOR'S NOTE: Spaceweather.com just issued this revised forecast. REVISED FORECAST: The CME launched toward Earth by yesterday's X-flare is moving faster than originally thought. Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab have revised their forecast accordingly, advancing the cloud's expected arrival time to 09:17 UT (5:17 am EDT) on Saturday, July 14th. Weekend auroras are likely.

 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Green

More discoveries about Pluto: New Horizons finds second icy mountain range and new moon Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Many people around the world have been celebrating the successful flyby, from the New Horizons NASA program, to the farthest planet in the solar system, Pluto. After the initial success and discovery of the first icy mountain range, the spacecraft found another equally ... continue reading


California farmers given mandate: Stop pumping form the San Joaquin River Watch

Image of A group of farmers has now been ordered to stop pumping water from a branch of the San Joaquin River. The severe measure was in order to protect waterways that are going dry during its drought.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

They were given multiple warnings, but now its official. The State Water Resources Control board has issued a cease and desist order against an irrigation district that has been draining the San Joaquin River. The district has repeatedly failed to obey a ... continue reading


Unusual, new winged dinosaur fossil unearthed in China Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An almost complete fossil of a feathered bird-like dinosaur was dug up by scientists in northeastern China. Although the creature has wings, they doubt it could really fly, due to its proportion. Scientists speculate the wings were used similarly to the peacock. This ... continue reading


Pluto finally exposed: Pictures from Pluto reach Earth after amazing NASA mission Watch

Image of Images of Pluto, the lone dwarf planet is finally revealed to humankind

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pluto has finally revealed itself to humankind, after being a mystical planet located beyond the depths of the Milky Way for so long. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has finally sent images of Pluto to Earth last Tuesday. With the lone planet, located 3 billion miles ... continue reading


El Nino to the rescue: Is relief for drought-stricken California on its way? Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Over the years, El Nino has provided relief to drought-stricken areas in the U.S. The current weather forecast predicts hotter and drier weathers will be felt in the eastern part of the world, concerning Australia, Asia and the majority of the Pacific while wetter ... continue reading


Carnivorous plant quits insect-killing ways to become 'bat landlord' Watch

Image of A special species of bat - the Hardwicke's woolly bat-roost inside the plants, and nowhere else. Bat babies were often found snuggled next to their parents.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A most unconventional living arrangement has been struck in the jungles of Borneo. The carnivorous plant, Nepenthes hemsleyana lures bats to nest in its pitcher-shaped leaves. The bats are left undigested, and as part of their agreement, the bats defecate their ... continue reading


Will El Nino bring relief to drought-stricken California? Watch

Image of The State of California, along with the rest of the United States, that is reliant on California's crops to feed it, is praying for rain to end the state's worst drought in history.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The State of California, along with the rest of the United States, that is reliant on California's crops to feed it, is praying for rain to end the state's worst drought in history. Scientists say that El Nino weather patterns could mean more rain down the line - or ... continue reading


Mysterious massive bird migration leaves popular bird location a dead zone Watch

Image of Empty eggs were all that could be found in the once popular bird location.

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Thousands of birds have left the Seahorse Key abruptly, leaving their nests and eggs behind. The mysterious phenomena has left scientists and bird watchers puzzled, especially when they found that the place is negative from any contamination. Biologists explain that ... continue reading


No longer little green men? Aliens may look more like us than traditionally believed Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

People have been conditioned to believe extraterrestrial life, or aliens, will look nothing like us. Aliens are commonly shown with large heads on tiny bodies with a pair of saucer-like eyes. They have long, thin arms and limbs, with the number of fingers being more or ... continue reading


TIME TO ACT: Vatican's Secretary of State says world leaders must heed Pope's encyclical Watch

Image of Cardinal Parolin spoke on the importance of

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's Secretary of State, has expressed his hope that Pope Francis' recent environmental encyclical will have a strong impact on the United Nations' three major gatherings this year, and will inspire global powers not only to ... continue reading


All Green News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Exodus 33:7-11; 34:5-9, 28
7 Moses used to take the Tent and pitch it outside ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 103:6-7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13
6 Yahweh acts with uprightness, with justice to all ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:35-43
35 This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet: ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 28th, 2015 Image

St. Innocent I
July 28: Innocent was born at Albano, Italy. He became Pope, succeeding ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter