Category Archives: Solar Effects

Scale of the Universe…

I found this out there in the world wide web….it is truly amazing. I would recommend starting at the small circle first. You will see what I mean when you click on it.

Scale of the Universe

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Posted by on June 3, 2011 in Solar Effects


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When was this first discovered?

The entire question which was asked on NASA Solar Week, ” When was this first discovered,that the sun’s magnetic effects had a direct effect on earth, and how does it on other planets?”

Answer provided by Dr. Kris Sigsbee

“That is a great question!  It took many different scientists centuries to work out that the Sun’s magnetic field and solar activity affected the Earth’s magnetosphere.  One of the first people to study the Earth’s magnetic field was an English scientist named William Gilbert who lived from 1544 to 1603.  When William Gilbert was alive, people already knew about the magnetic properties of iron ore (lodestone) and used compasses in navigation.  However, they did not really understand the Earth’s global magnetic field.  William Gilbert was one of the first to study the Earth’s magnetic field using a round lodestone he called a terella to simulate the Earth.  He also established a lot of the magnetic terminology we use today.  Years later, around 1612-13, Galileo made observations of sunspots.  However it would still be years before people understood the connection between the Earth’s magnetic field and solar activity.  A Norwegian scientist named Kristian Birkeland was the first to discover that the aurora borealis or northern lights were related to the Earth’s magnetic field in the early 1900s.  Birkeland was an adventurer who made this discovery through his polar expeditions in 1902-03 and laboratory experiments using terellas similar to the ones that Gilbert used.  In 1908, an American astronomer named George Ellery Hale realized that sunspots had magnetic structure.  A few years later, Birkeland proposed the existence of a solar wind as well as field-aligned currents in the Earth’s magnetosphere, but his ideas were controversial for a long time because they could not be verified using ground-based measurements.  It was not until the first satellites were launched in the late 1950s that scientists were able to confirm Birkeland’s theories about the connection between the Sun and the aurora.

You can read more about Galileo and William Gilbert here-”

And about George Hale and Kristian Birkeland here –


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Do other planets have magnetic fields to protect them from solar flares?

Answer provided by Dr. Kris Sigsbee

“Some of the other planets have strong magnetic fields, just like the Earth does.  Venus and Mars do not have strong, global magnetic fields.  Mars only has weak remnants of a magnetic field in rocks that were formed long ago when Mars may have had a much stronger, global magnetic field.  It is kind of interesting to note that while Mercury does not have an atmosphere like the other Terrestrial planets, it does have a strong magnetic field.  The lack of an atmosphere and the proximity of Mercury to the Sun means that the interaction of its magnetosphere with the solar wind may be very different from the interaction between Earth’s magnetosphere and the solar wind.  This is one of the things being investigated by MESSENGER, which is the spacecraft first to orbit Mercury.   Jupiter has a very strong magnetic field and very intense radiation belts.  One of Jupiter’s moons, Ganymede, also has a strong magnetic field and its own magnetosphere.  If I remember correctly, Ganymede is the only moon in the Solar System to have its own magnetosphere.  Although the solar wind does affect Jupiter’s magnetosphere, the dynamics of Jupiter’s magnetosphere are affected more strongly by the volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io, which create a feature called the Io plasma torus inside Jupiter’s magnetosphere.   Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune also have magnetic fields.  Aurora have been observed on Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. “


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How long was the longest solar flare measured?

Answer provided by Mitzi Adams:

”I’m not really sure how long the longest flare might have been.  That is a difficult question to answer, since it depends on how you are measuring the flare.  I can tell you that a flare that happened 21 Mar, 2011  (a C-class flare) lasted about fifteen hours.  That is, the X-ray flux from the flare in one energy band took that long to return to its pre-flare level, as measured by an instrument in orbit around Earth on the GOES satellite.  The first X-class flare of solar cycle 24 lasted only about an hour, however.  If you would like to see the graphs yourself, go here:

For information about flare classes, visit this website:’


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Here we go again…

Good Evening All!!! I apologize for not posting for a couple of days, but lets get caught up. So…my last posting regarding activity in the world was on March 21st with M-Class solar x-ray flares reported.
Since then here is what has happened:

3/28 *take this for what you want, this struck me as very interesting due to not much press covering this*

3/27 A lot of sunspot activity

  • An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.0 was reported in Baja, Mexico

3/26 M1 X-ray event was captured and a possibility of more lower level X-ray flares erupting

3/25 moderately low B-class and C-Class solar x-ray flares reported

3/24 B-class and C-class solar x-ray flares continue to erupt

3/23 B-class solar x-ray flares and C-class solar x ray flares erupted

3/22 C-class solar x-ray flares erupted

3/21 5.5 earthquake reported in the Philippines

I must say all of the activity in Arkansas is very interesting. Here is another interesting report regarding all of the earthquakes


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How to calculate a solar flare…

Solar Flare Effects on Earth reported by NOAA

From my post of Solar Week, here is one question I asked and the Scientists answered.

My question: When a solar flare erupts, can you calculate how quick it will reach Earth?

The answer provided by Ms. Dawn Myers: “The average distance from the Sun to the Earth is 150 million kilometers. A coronal mass ejection (CME) can vary in speed. The typical speed is 424 km/s, but they can range from 200 km/s to 1000 km/s. Using the numbers above we can compute the minimum travel time, the maximum and the average. The average time it takes for a CME to reach earth is 98 hrs. For the faster CMEs it would take 42 hours and for the slower moving ones it would take 208 hours.”

A follow up answer was provided by Dr. Yan Li:
“Hi, You have just asked one of the most important questions for the Space Weather effects of the solar flares and CMEs (coronal mass ejections). Some solar flares are eruptive and some are not. When a flare is eruptive, a CME will be sent out to leave the Sun. At this point of time, it is still difficult to calculate when a CME will reach the Earth when an eruption occurs. So we take images of CMEs and measure the speeds of CMEs, which provide a good idea of how quickly they will reach the Earth. But there will still be complications on the way to Earth from Sun, CMEs can be accelerated or decelerated by the solar wind. Scientists are getting better and better at predicting the arrival time of CMEs. Yan”


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Super Moon

A Super Moon will take place on March 19, 2011.

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Posted by on March 12, 2011 in Solar Effects


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