Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Solar Flare and Things to Come

Wow. Did you hear about the massive solar flare that erupted from the surface of the sun yesterday morning? Here is a photograph of it at its largest extent before most of the billions of tons of material fell back to the surface of the sun.

But even though this is quite possibly the largest solar flare ever observed it should have minimal impact on Earth because of where Earth is presently in its orbital path. Earth should receive cosmic particles at a very oblique angle. They say that it should enhance the Aurora Borealis and they do expect some disruptions in communications sometime on the 9th of June.

Speaking of which, I continue to wonder what we are getting ourselves into with the way we depend more and more on cellular communications and global positioning systems. Now from what information I have gathered, we are due for another solar max late next year to early 2013. A solar max occurs once every 12 years and extends over several months.

This is when sunspots appear. Sunspots are magnetic storms. This is when The Sun outputs more cosmic radiation – the kind that can disrupt communications systems on Earth. Trend-wise it looks like the next solar max will not be very severe – more akin to the severity of the one that occurred in 1928. But this is my main point: never in history have we had a solar max AND a cellular/wireless system that nearly everyone over the age of 7 depends on.

Really, communications-wise, the potential for some real interesting times may just be ahead of us.

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