Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Short Subjects: Solar Storm = Eye Candy in the Extreme

Early on January 24th, NASA issued this press release: “The coronal mass ejection CME collided with Earth's magnetic field a little after 10 AM ET on January 24, 2012. NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center has categorized the resulting storm as ‘strong’ — or S3 (with S5 being the highest) — storm. Solar radiation storms can affect satellite operations and short wave radio propagation, but cannot harm humans on Earth. Auroras may well be visible tonight at higher latitudes such as Michigan and Maine in the U.S., and perhaps even lower.” NASA was able to capture the flare: a short video follows the press release.  

As a precaution, Delta and American airlines rerouted planes that normally flew over the North Pole for 24 hours fearing that communications could be disrupted. In Scandinavia, optimistic photographers got ready to record the show, and they were not disappointed. Just search for Northern Lights 2012 on YouTube or Vimeo and you will see what I mean.

Thanks to a tweet from @grist I was alerted to perhaps the best of the best of these videos — “Aurora 2012,” by Christian Mülhauser, posted by Grist List editor Jess Zimmerman on February 7.

The film was shot in Norway on January 24 at the height of the storm.

Check out the NASA site for more information on solar storms and some fantastic still images. Be sure to visit the NASA Solar Storm FAQ page for clear, concise answers to many questions, including: “Is the world going to end in 2012?”  [The answer to this one is a click away.] Warning: If you are at all interested in astronomy you could spend a lot of time here.

Have a great weekend.

Why Saturday Short Subjects? Some readers may recall  being dropped at the movie theater for the Saturday matinee — two action-packed feature films with a series of short subjects (cartoons or short movies, sometimes a serial cliffhanger) sandwiched in between. Often the short subjects were the most memorable, and enjoyable, part of the morning. That explains the name. The reason behind these particular posts is that we are all short on time. My Short Subject posts should not take me as long to write or you as long to read (or try).

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