back to article Flare-well, 2015 – solar storm to light up skies on New Year's Eve

A major eruption from the surface of the Sun could give a spectacular display of the aurora borealis in time for New Year's festivities. At 1245 UTC (0445 PT) on 28 December our star belched out a coronal mass ejection from the surface in our direction. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that a …

Anonymous Coward

Weather report

Oh, so 100% cloud cover for me on New Year's Eve, then. At least that has been my experience for the last dozen or so CMEs...

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Re: Weather report

Obligatory plug: http://aurorawatch.lancs.ac.uk/

Still keeping going in the face of egregious cuts...thank goodness. I've seen many aurorae thanks to the guys at Lancaster.

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Re: Weather report

the Lancaster Uni warning scheme isn't showing much activity at present......

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"To get the best view you'll need to be as far north as possible and have clear skies." - stating the bleedin' obvious asren't you?

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MrT
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"And I have seen the North Star...

Shining in the freight yard"

But only if the freight yard lights were off...

Leave the City might be better advice - probably not a great view stood at ground level in the middle of Seattle.

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Devil

Never mind the US

'...the delightful lighting effects this will cause might be seen as far south as California.'

And as far North as the UK?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Never mind the US

Let me Google that for you....

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Re: Never mind the US

Weather forecast surprisingly has us down for clear skies tomorrow evening. At least in this part of the UK. I might actually make the effort to go out there!

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Re: Never mind the US

If you're like me walking back from the pub on NYE, you may have trouble focussing on the sky. Balance is not my strong point after 7 pints of lager and a packet of crisps.

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Re: Never mind the US

@Mellipop: bleedin' obvious, innit mate - leave out the crisps! Happy New Year!

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MrT
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Re: Never mind the US

The California-Oregon border is at exactly 42°00'N. Parts of Canada are nearly as far south (my sister lives in Windsor, Ontario, which is listed at 42°18'N latitude). UK is between roughly 8°-19° further north - the mainland spans about 8°.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Never mind the US

The latitude by itself is more or less irrelevant; what's important is the distance to the North geomagnetic pole (not the north *magnetic* pole, which moves around much more, and is rather further north right now).

The geomagnetic pole is currently located around Canada's Ellesmere island, at 80N 72W or so. So I am afraid you need to be *a lot* further north in Europe than in North America to see the northern lights.

Feel free to check out http://www.aurora-service.eu/aurora-forecast/ for the gory details.

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Re: Never mind the US

http://www.aurora-service.eu/aurora-forecast/

According to that site it all happened last night (around midnight weds & the early hours thurs). Anyone see it? Lots of rain here & we're too far south for most of them. In the 30-odd years I've lived here (S Suffolk), I've only seen three.

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Go

Re: Never mind the US

Try to fall backwards - that way you can see the sky!

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Happy

Re: Never mind the US

Easy. Once you've fallen over while walking back from the pub ratarsed and are lying on your back trying to remember how to get up, the sky is that big black thing in front of you.

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Re: Never mind the US

@Mellipop: And leave out the lager and drink real ale. HNY all.

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Coat

Obligatory warning...

... about walking plants...

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Re: Obligatory warning...

Beat me to it!

Lock yer Triffids up tonight.

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Re: Obligatory warning...

"Beat me to it!

Lock yer Triffids up tonight."

Under current legislation that is deemed as illegal and can be deemd as racist, offensive to multicellular eukaryotes and possibly specist as they do seem to be part animal.

Bloody Triffids, coming over here and taking the piss, putting nothing back into the community and refusing to integrate.

I think we ought to launch a petition backed by the Sun and if that fails we should defenstrate their greenhouses.

Saunters of left of stage, mumbling and foaming at the mouth about invasive species, Johnny Foreigner and bringing back National Service.

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Re: Obligatory warning...

"defenstrate their greenhouses"

Throw their greenhouses out of windows?

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Mushroom

Naming

"...it is hoped that naming storms will help raise awareness of severe weather and ensure greater safety of the public."

That was one of the reasons given by the UK and Ireland Met services for the recent naming of storms in the region.

Should NOAA name Solar Flares?

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Re: Naming

NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center maintains a numbered list of flares, but as yet there's no standard numbering scheme for CMEs, probably because different people and algorithms come up with different determinations what is and isn't a CME. It was easiest from 2007 through 2014, when the twin STEREO spacecraft added viewpoints to the old, traditional one along the Sun-Earth line (the SOHO spacecraft, now 20 years old). One of the STEREO spacecraft is now "lost," at least temporarily, so the determination of CME origin location and direction of propagation is somewhat degraded.

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Re: Naming

"That was one of the reasons given by the UK and Ireland Met services for the recent naming of storms in the region"

<snip>

All well and good but what does one have to fear from a storm called Frank, Abigail or Barney? Surely one should give a big storm some form of name that would instil fear into the masses such as;

Nebuchadnezzar smiter of gardens.

Ajax slayer of cattle.

Agamemnon daughter killer.

Boudica of the fiery hair, despoiler of Essex.

Abigail cleaner of fireplaces does not cut the mustard in my book and as for Frank? who has ever been frightened by a Frank other than the lovely Mr Bruno?

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Re: Naming

"who has ever been frightened by a Frank"

I seem to remember the Romans had problems with the Franks.............

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Holmes

No problemo . . . me t'inks

About the Carrignton event smokin' a lot of hardware and starting some fires. Well thems was the bad ol' days of cloth and paper insulation. Now a'days almost every piece of equipment is on a spike supressing power strip, plus whatever OVP the power companies have on board. So I don't see a G5 event causing permanent damage on a very large scale. Certanly not on a dogs-n-cats living together scale.

Not that people 100+ years in the future won't look back and think us primative in their eyes.

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Re: No problemo . . . me t'inks

You're no doubt right about electromagnetic pulse-like events, but CMEs with strong magnetic field oriented opposite to the earth's can lead to induced currents in the earth and oceans ("geomagnetically induced currents"), and without sufficient warning, MWatt transformers can't have their ground phase adjusted in time. Sufficient warning being the 1 - 3 days provided by coronagraphs; without them, something as fast as the Carrington event would allow only 10 - 15 minutes of warning when it passed by our sentinels near L1.... or seconds when it passed by geosynchronous orbit. You can't change the ground phase of that size transformers that fast, so you need to yank them off the grid or watch the oil baths they spin in burst into flames.

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Re: No problemo . . . me t'inks

Well, you're wrong. CMEs in 1989 led to the destruction of an HV transformer in New Jersey, and the collapse of the Quebec power grid (90 seconds from normal functioning to a full system failure).

Surge protectors provide microsecond-long absorption of high voltages, not the quasi-static huge currents that are induced by CMEs. Thinking that surge protectors would help is like thinking that a waterproof jacket would help stop your house flooding.

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Re: No problemo . . . me t'inks

Yes and of course, all those early warning satellites have anti-CME missiles built in, so if a biggie hits us, those satellites will keep our delicate electronics safe.

*Tip: If those satellites can survive the CME, then build everything out of the same bleeding stuff you NASA numpties...

*Joke!!!

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Rats...

I'm in the PNW of the US and while the skies are clear, there's heavy ground fog... To use a quote: "Missed it by that much." since I'm not going to drive up into the mountains tonight. Too cold, too icy up there.

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It's been clear skies here for weeks. But get one little slightly interesting astronomical event, and the clouds form up in seconds.

Mind you, being this close to the Equator, probably wouldn't have seen sod all anyway. More likely that we'll see the lights of the firework display in Dubai

https://youtu.be/mxPzjsyspEc

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...and here is the obligatory xkcd for this topic.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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My excuse will finally become true

This has been my response for years.

"Why isnt this working?"

"Unprecendented solar activity."

Sweet.

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Re: My excuse will finally become true

Precedent: the Carrington event. Sorry to ruin your excuse.

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Aurora Australis?

Any chance of Southern Lights?

Or does the Aurora favour the winter latiudes?

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Coincidence?

There seems to have happened a little hickup in Amazon's "govcloud":

https://www.reddit.com/r/sysadmin/comments/3yv2db/aws_ebs_volume_data_loss_usgovcloudwest1a/

It looks like those people who believe that "made to government-standard" means more expensive and less reliable - they were actually right ;-)

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Unhappy

clear skies

Weather forecast for New Year's Eve: Clear skies with temporary dense SO2 clouds in the lower atmosphere.

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Coat

Re: clear skies

Where are you? Beijing?

The acid proof one please.

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Re: clear skies

Forecast is for all major Dutch cities. The sulphur comes from cheap imported Chinese fireworks.

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Re: acid proof

Dutch "consumers" will between midnight 31/12 and 1 o'clock ignite on a buildup area of 2300 km² a large part of their fireworks on which they spend some 70 million Euros. That is except more than 45000 kilograms of fireworks confiscated by the national police force as illegal (like avalance mortars).

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Re: clear skies

"Forecast is for all major Dutch cities. The sulphur comes from cheap imported Chinese fireworks."

'knell! I never really thought about that amount of shite from fireworks, Ta for the heads up.

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Just a little bit of energy

That's a few TW of energy dissipated into our atmosphere..... it won't warm it up at all will it??

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the Lancaster monitoring unit just flagged an amber alert

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Anonymous Coward

Re. Carrington

I recall the main risk not just being the destruction of hundreds of very hard-to-replace transformers, but the widespread nuclear meltdowns caused by the various reactors throughout Europe and the Americas running out of diesel for the emergency backup generators.

Also there are a lot of very dangerous chemical plants containing toxins like pressurized ammonia and chlorine which if their containment systems go down could create a serious problem.

Sources: "Horizon: What If We All Disappeared"

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