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'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Green

Science finally catches up to Einstein Watch

Image of Albert Einstein's theory proves true in NASA detection of gravitational waves (NASA).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In what may be the largest leap in physics this century, scientists believe they discovered Albert Einstein's gravitational waves. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Einstein predicted that gravity is not constant. He believed it traveled in waves that appear as ... continue reading


Hundreds of mysterious galaxies discovered hiding behind the Milky Way Watch

Image of Using the Parkes telescope, which utilizes radio waves to observe space, scientists detected 883 galaxies in the ZoA. A third of the bodies had never been reported before.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

An international team of scientists has discovered hundreds of galaxies beyond our Milky Way. Astronomers from the United States, South Africa, Australia, and the Netherlands say that these galaxies are "relatively" close at 250 million light years away. They ... continue reading


You won't believe how many Americans actually care about global warming! Watch

Image of While a threat to humanity, global warming is of very low concern to the majority of most Americans.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Climate change - or global warming, has a wide range of apocalyptic possibilities - drought, fire, famine and government collapse are promised by the world's soaring temperatures. However, according to a recent poll - Americans just do not care, or express much concern ... continue reading


NOAA caught adjusting temperature data to make global warming worse! But why did they do it? Watch

Image of NOAA: And we would have gotten away with it if not for you pesky skeptics!

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Global warming is probably the most serious issue facing the world today. If global temperatures are spiking, then the world as we know it will change. Even the U.S. military considers global warming to be a major threat to national security. But what if the climate ... continue reading


Here's what a plague of locusts looks like (PHOTOS) Watch

Image of When grasshoppers swarm, they become known as locusts. Their colors and behaviors change dramatically.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Amid news that the largest locust swarm in five decades is devouring crops in Argentina, some people have wondered just what such a thing looks like. Here's what a plague of biblical proportions looks like.  [media id="17873"][media id="17875"][media ... continue reading


Will the symbolic Doomsday Clock move closer to the fatal end? Watch

Image of Doomsday Clock is currently set three minutes to 12.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic visual of the world's impending doom. Once the clock strikes midnight, the world as we know it will come to an apocalyptic halt -all of our own doing. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) is ... continue reading


El Nino DISASTER looms for California: 'ATMOSPHERIC RIVER EVENT' possible, could be followed 'VERY LOW SNOW LEVELS' Watch

Image of The ARkstorm scenario has been modeled in California. In 1862, an actual ARkstorm hit the state. Similar, but less destructive storms have hit in 1938, 1968, and 1986.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A long range weather forecast for California predicts the state may be hit by a major El Nino storm next weekend. That storm could be followed by abnormally cold temperatures that could put snow on the valley floor, a rare event for the region. UPDATE: Wednesday, 1/27, ... continue reading


SHOCKING reality facing oceans: Plastic pollution 'equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute' Watch

Image of The ocean is already full of plastic -but more is on its way (LiveScience).

By Monique Crawford (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Everyone has heard of the spread of plastic pollution in our oceans -but how many of us realize just how serious the situation really is? According to the World Economic Forum, the amount of plastic currently dumped into our oceans each year is the equivalent of one ... continue reading


Global warming devours lake twice the size of Los Angeles Watch

Image of A fisherman displays his license. Without any water or fish, his livelihood has evaporated. Bolivia has declared a national disaster.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Climate change may be a debate topic in the United States, but for people who have been impacted by warming weather, it is a harsh reality. This is painfully evident in Lake Poopo, Bolivia, that nation's second-largest lake, which has now dried up to just 2 percent of ... continue reading


NOAA: 2015 officially hottest year on record. -- Skeptics just insist all scientists are lying Watch

Image of According to NASA and NOAA, 2015 was the hottest year on modern record.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

More evidence. There's more proof the planet is warming, and it's not even a debatable subject anymore. According to NOAA, 2015 is the hottest year on record, by far. LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Last year was the hottest recorded year since record-keeping ... continue reading


All Green News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 58:9-14
9 Then you will cry for help and Yahweh will answer; you will call and he ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 86:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Prayer Of David] Listen to me, Yahweh, answer me, for I am poor and ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 5:27-32
27 When he went out after this, he noticed a tax collector, Levi by name, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 13th, 2016 Image

St. Catherine de Ricci
February 13: St. Catherine was born in Florence in 1522. Her ... Read More