Friday, July 09, 2010

FLASHBACK: The Great Solar Tempest Storm of 1859 (Carrington Event)

If you cannot see the picture above, click here to read the article Carrington Flare of 1859 as a Prototypical Worst-Case Solar Energetic Particle Event By L. W. Townsend, Senior Member, IEEE, E. N. Zapp, D. L. Stephens, Jr., and J. L. Hoff

I'm not a 2012er, but if a solar flare like the 1859 Carrington Flare hits the Earth during 2012, it will certainly seem like the apocalypse. A major solar flare has the potential to wipe out a lot of electronics and could potentially cause chaos.

If it [major solar flare] happens anytime soon, we won't know exactly what to expect until it's over, and by then some modern communication systems could be like beachfront houses after a hurricane.

In early September in 1859, telegraph wires suddenly shorted out in the United States and Europe, igniting widespread fires. Colorful aurora, normally visible only in polar regions, were seen as far south as Rome and Hawaii.

The event 144 years ago was three times more powerful than the strongest space storm in modern memory, one that cut power to an entire Canadian province in 1989 (completely shut down Hydro-Quebec, the power grid servicing Canada's Quebec province).


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