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what can we do about it all?


You’ve probably seen the familiar picture of a TV weather report. Here are some of the symbols we use on Earth for Earth weather.


Predicting stormy space weather


We can't stop solar storms happening. The best we can do is to protect ourselves and our sensitive electronic equipment when we know a storm is approaching. Space weather initiatives provide an early warning, so that power station and satellite operators, astronauts and aircraft flight crews can take proper precautions. For instance, with enough warning an astronaut can get back inside the shielded area of the Space Shuttle, or a satellite operator can switch off sensitive equipment. A network of solar observing stations is used to constantly monitor the Sun to warn us if the space weather is going to be stormy.


How much warning do we get?


The solar wind can take between 2-4 days to reach the Earth, depending on how fast the particles are travelling. If we see a solar storm happen and know that it's heading our way, then there is time to take some precautions or watch out for aurorae. Energetic particles from solar flares can take from just a few minutes to several hours to reach us. It's then very hard to react. The problem is that it is expensive for satellite operators to 'power down' or take other precautions and they don't want to do this unless they really have to. We need to understand the Sun better so we can predict more precisely when solar flares and CMEs might happen, but this isn't easy.


SpaceWeather website

This is the address of a good website devoted to warning about solar storms and spaceweather events:


Science news and information about the Sun-Earth enviroment





Solar Wind
speed: 578.3 km/s
density: 3.5 protons/cm 3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1555 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C1 1000 UT Oct26
24-hr: M1 1745 UT Oct25
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1550 UT


Daily Sun : 26 Oct '02

sunspot 162 has a delta-class magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class solar flares. Sunspot 160 poses a threat for M-class flares. Image credit: SOHO/MDI

What's Up in Space -- 26 Oct 2002
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AURORA WARNING: A giant magnetic loop filled with glowing-hot gas blasted away from the Sun Friday morning. Astronomers call such events "eruptive prominences." This explosion was unusually beautiful--and it apparently hurled a coronal mass ejection toward Earth. Sky watchers should be alert for Northern Lights when the cloud sweeps past Earth on Oct. 26th or 27th. Above: The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory captured this movie of the explosion. [more]


SOLAR WIND: Earth remains inside a high-speed solar wind stream flowing from coronal hole on the Sun. Solar wind gusts have triggered auroras off and on since Oct. 23rd.


Above: Lyndon Anderson photographed these colorful Northern Lights over North Dakota on Oct. 25th.






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