A solar prominence called Rosebud

To call a prominence Rosebud is far from a scientific description. Before joining Slooh, I never really paid much attention to the Sun except during eclipses and transits (obviously) During periods of hightened sunspot activity, I also gave sunspots more flowery names than Active Region 12192 (AR 2192). King Kong of 2014 was no Hollywood special effect. It produced 6 X-class flares. An X3.1-class flare erupted from the lower half of the sun on 24 Oct 2014.

So what is it with me that I always look for familiar patterns in the sky? I can hear myself telling an audience that these perceptions of the vast universe started way back in antiquity when there was little entertainment other than looking at the sky. Knowledge of celestial objects was limited. Every evening a huge crocodile lurked in the west, waiting for the Sun. The crocodile swallowed the Sun, carried it through the night and every morning he released it in the east. Oh yes, we inherited this unscientific balderdash from our ancestors, but was it all balderdash?

What initially makes us want to look at the night sky. Is it HD 37128, HD 37742, HD 36486 or rather the Three Kings with the added touch of drama, the mighty hunter and his sword? Would I remember what AR2192 looked like for years to come if I had not nicknamed it King Kong?

To see the unknown, I look at the obvious
and make it my own.
I saw a rosebud and watched it unfold
to reveal, layer by layer, what this story told

Here comes the Sun

Aug 2013


Courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams

Something big is about to happen on the Sun. According to measurements from NASA-supported observatories, the sun’s vast magnetic field is about to flip.

“It looks like we’re no more than 3 to 4 months away from a complete field reversal,” says solar physicist Todd Hoeksema of Stanford University. “This change will have ripple effects throughout the solar system.”

After reading this I looked through the window at a cloudy winter sky. In 3 – 4 months the smiles are supposed to be returning to our faces here in the Southern Hemisphere just like the Beatles promised. Now it seems we are in for some stormy space weather.

How much will this event effect us here on Earth this time?

Every eleven years (give or take a year or two) the Sun goes through a sunspot cycle which is linked to magnetic forces. Now what have magnetic forces got to do with pole reversals?

Reading up on the Parker Solar Dynamo Theory, only to learn that the theory was flawed, I proceeded to the Babcock-Leighton Model until I hit the sentence: Unfortunately it could not offer a prediction…..

OK so now I’ve wasted some time but not to be deterred I googled until I found written in bold: And the answer is….

ah ha!
Two separate processes seem to be going on: The Local Dynamo and the Global Dynamo. Before attaching major significance to a whole lot of really weird terms like the Tachocline and helioseismometry data from SOHO, I scrolled down to the bottom of the page just to make sure I was on the right track. “There are still many details to be worked out….”

While the physicists work on the many details, Kid’s Astronomy gives a nice explanation. Solar Magnetic Field reversals occur more or less every eleven years and at a time when solar activity is at its peak. Solar storms travel through space towards Earth. Energy and radiation from solar flares and coronal mass ejections can harm astronauts, damage electronics on satellites, cause the most beautiful auroras blackouts on Earth by surges in power grids.

There have been predictions that the upcoming solar storm will outdo the 1859 Carrington Event, a super storm so intense that the Northern Lights could be seen from Rome!

Should I book a ticket to Rome or will media headlines change from Something big is about to happen on the Sun to Something is about to happen on the big Sun.

Well seeing that the Sun’s magnetic field has flipped 5.5 times before in my lifetime, for now I might as well carry on humming: Here comes the sun, here comes the sun and I say it’s all right, sun, sun, sun, here it comes