August 3, 2010 - In light (no pun intended) of the big solar blast heading Earth's way tonight, and in anticipation of the resulting, extended auroras, we thought we'd put together a quick sampler of Sun-related items for your reading and viewing pleasure. The coronal mass ejection (CME) burst from the Sun on Sunday, and is now striking Earth with full force. The CSMonitor tells us where to best see the Aurora Borealis ("Northern Lights"), while the 3News.co.nz (New Zealand) tells us about the Aurora Australis, ("Southern Lights"). SpaceWeather.com is reporting (at 8:30 p.m. EDT) that "The first of possibly two incoming CMEs hit Earth's magnetic field today at approximately 1730 UT (1:30 pm EDT). As a result of the impact, a polar geomagnetic storm is brewing. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras after nightfall."
This event will be fun and non-destructive (we're told), but the truth is that nobody knows how damaging it might be to satellites and other electronic systems, such as power grids. As sure as the Sun will rise tomorrow, you can bet that one day the Sun will destroy this planet. When? Probably not in our lifetimes, but according to NASA the Sun could bring civilization-destroying havoc as early as 2012. FoxNews also has a good report about the potentially destructive solar storms predicted for 2012.
Heliophysics is not something I excelled at in college. The fact that I didn't take any physics classes probably had something to do with that, but it hasn't curbed my enthusiasm for the subject. (True geeks will love this site: http://www.solarcycle24.com/)
Below is a video that explains how the Sun works and its effects on the solar system, of which you and I are but tiny parts. (Also See: Interstellar Energy Cloud + Sun = Uh Oh!)