Are Solar Storms Risky? Facts you should know

Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory
Were you lucky enough to catch any glimpses of the spectacular solar storms this week? If not, here’s a stunning gallery of the sun’s spectacular light show.
Here’s a good article that tells you what’s going on with the recent solar storms and what you need to know about the potential for future storms.
According to the article:

The reason we’re hearing more about solar flares is because we are moving toward a “solar maximum,” a period of increased solar activity. These cycles, which are on average 11 years, mean an increase in the number of solar flares. The next maximum is expected in 2013, according to NASA. These cycles are analogous to seasons on Earth.

Following in the footsteps of a similar storm only two months ago, these strong solar storms have the potential to disrupt telecommunications and even knock out power. One possible cause of the massive 1989 blackout in Quebec was a strong solar storm, similar to the ones we are experiencing lately. Air travel can also be disrupted as flights are rerouted to avoid polar routes. The background level of radiation is higher during storms and could be dangerous over the poles. Solar storms are not, however, dangerous to the average person on earth, although you may want to be sure that your surge protectors are all on and working just in case of power disruptions.
Not only are solar storms not directly dangerous, they’re the cause of some of the most stunning light displays known to connoisseurs of the night skies. The Northern Lights or aurora borealis was forecast to be unusually intense and possibly visible as far south as central Massachusetts. So when you hear a forecast for a solar storm, turn on the surge protectors and take out your telescopes.

Leave a Reply