Space Weather Watch #2: Incoming CME 3rd August

Posted: August 2, 2010 by tallbloke in solar system dynamics

Regular ‘Dirk H’ has alerted me to this report warning of an incoming Coronal Mass Ejection due to arrive tomorrow, 3rd August 2010.

This has been picked up by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), the new ‘eye on the sun’ launched a couple of months ago and covered on this blog.

According to the report by Ian O’Neill,

It is thought that the SDO and SOHO observations are connected, making this a global magnetic disturbance affecting the whole of the Earth-facing side of the sun.

The eruption happened at around 0855 UT (3:55 am EST), when the SDO detected a C3-class solar flare originating from a cluster of sunspots (called sunspot 1092). This isn’t a large flare, but right at the same time, a filament located about 100,000 kilometers from the flare also erupted. See the video.

CME’s are capable of causing disruption to power grids and sensitive electronics. So get your comments in quick and put a tinfoil hat on your laptop! The internet might go pop tomorrow 😉

Tomorrow evening, people in higher latitudes should get out for a walk to a spot with a clear view towards the nearest pole. You might be rewarded with some spectacular views.

alaska-aurora-borealis
For a mini competition, please could readers post the location and latitude of the places they have seen aurorae from. Points will be given for the lowest latitude observations, and as you know, points mean prizes! 🙂

Comments
  1. Tenuc says:

    Thanks for the heads-up. According to Solen “Effects from the CME observed on August 1st, could cause active to major storm conditions from late on August 3 and on August 4-5.”

    I’ll be watching for aurora tomorrow night, though it will have to be a big magnetic storm to be visible this far south. I’m not optimistic!

  2. tallbloke says:

    I saw the northern lights from around 53 degrees north some years ago. Spectacular greens, blues and pinks shimmering across half the sky. Amazing sight. I’ll be taking my camera up on top of the hill near my house and looking north tomorrow evening for sure.

  3. INGSOC says:

    Just a hint for those of us in the lower 49/50’s. Look for a barely perceptible sheeting haze of sorts, similar to what one sees when pressing lightly on closed eyelids. It took me by surprise when I first saw it many years back from my perch high atop Savary Island. Once I realized what I was seeing, it became easier to discern. It’s hard to describe, but if your eyes are well adjusted to the dark, it can be readily seen as “waves” flowing about very quickly seemingly all over the sky. I laid back with more than a few cool beverages and watched for hours. Quite a sight.

    Nice site BTW TBloke! I’ll try to keep my slanderous comments to a minimum…

    Cheers!

  4. tallbloke says:

    Welcome aboard INGSOC, and don’t worry, there are no rules about what you can and can’t say here. The flip side of that is there are no rules about what I can or can’t do with your post afterwards.

    You’ll work it out. 😉

  5. Zeke the Sneak says:

    “could readers post the location and latitude of the places they have seen aurorae from”

    I saw the lights from the 45th parallel @15 years ago, driving through Idaho.

    We have a cloud cover here in Washington that won’t go away, so we only got a handful of clear days in July. I would not be too keen on finding out I missed any auroras!

  6. tallbloke says:

    Hi Zeke,
    here’s hoping the cloud breaks for you, I guess it wouldn’t be safe to be up in an aircraft until we know more about the magnitude of this thing, though the indications are it would be OK. Cheap flight to see some relatives for urgent family business?

    Thanks for the email a couple of months ago, I do try to stay incognito at work.

  7. Zeke the Sneak says:

    Thanks tallbloke, we are now experiencing blue skies (some kind of a wierd cosmic resonance) (-:

  8. INGSOC says:

    I guess I should put in my sightings years back at 49.938, -124.784. Do I win before it starts?

    Seriously though, I will be watching over the next few nights, and hope to beat that by a bit here at my home bunker. Might have to lower the blast screens and turn off the Klieg Lights. Not to worry though. I’ll stock up on supplies, electrify the perimeter and arm the mines.

    😉

  9. tallbloke says:

    INGSOC, go up three posts and you’ll see Zeke has sneaked in a few hundred miles south of you. 😉

  10. Zeke the Sneak says:

    I think I will have to look for this “barely perceptible sheeting haze of sorts… with cool beverages… watching for hours”

    Whereas Iiiiii was driving.

    Full disclosure though, they had no color; just very clear and brilliant, like crystal.

  11. INGSOC says:

    “Full disclosure though, they had no color; just very clear and brilliant, like crystal.”

    Likewise there was no colour when I saw it. But it certainly wasn’t clear and brilliant, at least where I was. I thought for a moment I was seeing things, as it was just barely perceptible. After allowing my eyes to adjust a bit, I saw pretty much what I described…. Flickering sheets of gray? or very light misty waves of sorts that raced very quickly across the sky, originating in the north. It didn’t occur to me for a few minutes what I was seeing, and thought perhaps I was hallucinating! (the 70’s you know) I asked the folks that were on the front deck with me if they could see it, and after a great deal of ridicule (friendly) some of them saw it as well. It dawned on me what it was right about the time others were beginning to see it that it was the aurora. We all sat and imbibed much festive concoctions unto the wee hours; all gazing giddily up at the sky, occasionally sounding out when a bunch of sheets would go by. Much fun indeed. I’m hoping for much the same tomorrow as our night sky will be very clear for the next few days. I don’t suppose any of you have noticed the conjunction of Mars, Venus and Saturn? Very close together in the west just after dark here in Pacific time. I would give my eye teeth for a Meade LX200…

    http://meade.com/product_pages/lx200_series/lx200.php

    And Zeke, I gladly concede your locale as further south than mine. I hadn’t really bothered to note your post I’m afraid. Apologies all around I’m sure. Honest mistake, but surely society is to blame. 😉 Until tomorrow!

    Excelsior!

  12. David Ball says:

    Growing up on West Hawk Lake ( a meteor crater lake, deepest in Manitoba Canada), I have logged thousands of hours in a boat under the stars. I have seen aurora in incredible displays of color and formation. Fascinating. There are no words, …. should have sent a poet, …

  13. tallbloke says:

    A quick Google for poetry about Northern Lights brought up quite a few pages.
    The first I looked at was this one.
    http://my.opera.com/zetorres/blog/2008/10/10/northern-lights-poetry

  14. tallbloke says:

    Nice short movie from SDO at this link shows the filament in the northern solar hemisphere erupting outwards; towards us!

    http://www.physorg.com/news199985777.html

  15. tallbloke says:

    And for a bit of typical media hyperbole on the incoming CME:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/7923069/Nasa-scientists-braced-for-solar-tsunami-to-hit-earth.html

    It’s this sort of reporting which fueled the global warming hype.

  16. Verity Jones says:

    From http://www.spacew.com/www/dailyrpt.html

    Geophysical activity forecast: geomagnetic field activity is
    expected to be at unsettled to active levels on day 1 (03 august)
    due to the arrival of the first of two cmes observed on 01 august
    (this cme was associated with the long-duration C3/sf flare at
    01/0826Z). Activity is expected to be at active to minor storm
    levels with a slight chance for major storm on days 2 – 3 (04 – 05
    august) due to the arrival of the second slower cme observed on 01
    august (associated with a large filament disappearance).

    Event probabilities 03 aug-05 aug

    Class M 05/05/05
    Class X 01/01/01
    Proton 01/01/01
    PCAF green

    Geomagnetic activity probabilities 03 aug-05 aug

    A. Middle Latitudes
    Active 20/40/50
    Minor storm 05/20/25
    Major-severe storm 01/05/10

    B. High Latitudes
    Active 25/45/40
    Minor storm 10/25/35
    Major-severe storm 01/10/15

  17. tallbloke says:

    Thanks Verity.

    There is a nice animation of the Earth’s magnetosphere here
    http://iswa.gsfc.nasa.gov:8080/IswaSystemWebApp/iSWACygnetStreamer?timestamp=2038-01-23%2000:44:00&window=-1&cygnetId=40

    Looks like it getting bumpy out there! 8)

    There is also a week ahead animated forecast for the interplanetary magnetic field which shows the CME nicely.
    http://iswa.gsfc.nasa.gov:8080/IswaSystemWebApp/iSWACygnetStreamer?timestamp=2038-01-23%2000:44:00&window=-1&cygnetId=261

  18. Zeke the Sneak says:

    “Flickering sheets of gray? or very light misty waves of sorts that raced very quickly across the sky, originating in the north.”

    Good you said that because the N & O in the atmosphere should render color, but there it was, white! They looked like truly unearthly white columns and rays, against a pitch starry night sky.

    No need to concede your locale as further south, we can easily share the honors, if white and grey effects in the upper atmosphere are allowed. They were seen as far south as LA some time ago, ’89?

    Compliments on the sun watching thread, probably would have missed this one!

  19. Zeke the Sneak says:
    August 3, 2010 at 6:27 pm
    Precisely in 1989 there were two big flares, one of the two provoked the Quebec blackout….and made some jumps in the TSI measuring satellites, which, afterwards, were “conveniently” adjusted…though many more things happened in that year.

  20. Today Earth is trailing Neptune (Heliocentric) about 17 degrees, as per my usual observation ( happens a lot of the time) there is starting an oscillation visible on the HAARP system

    http://137.229.36.30/cgi-bin/magnetometer/gak-mag.cgi

    That I think is the Earth cutting into the trailing edge of the magnetic envelope of the ion stream from the sun to Neptune. Happens about 15 to 20 degrees for most planetary Synod conjunctions, peaks or saturates for about 3 to 4 days either side of closest alignment, then drops off in one to three steps. Is there a better satellite data base that shows the speed / density of the solar wind better?

    It is usually from this point forward that the earthquakes start to show up. Along with the increase in moisture carrying positive ions off of the ITCZ becomes quite visible. View from the sun;
    http://space.jpl.nasa.gov/cgi-bin/wspace?tbody=399&vbody=10&month=8&day=3&year=2010&hour=00&minute=00&fovmul=1&rfov=45&bfov=30&porbs=1&brite=1&showsc=1

  21. Damn do i feel like an ass now, (forgot to read the earlier posts before just posting) I did not see any aurora here in Kansas last night, then I did not think before writing the above post. [my age is showing?]

    Although it begs the question do the coronal holes / flares come at random, before the heliocentric synods or because of them. I would expect to see activity to keep step with the amount of planetary coupling with the upcoming Neptune, Jupiter / Uranus then later with Venus the next month.

  22. tallbloke says:

    Richard, planetary – solar interactions are a main emphasis on this site, so your observations are welcome.

    You can generate solar wind graphs here http://omniweb.gsfc.nasa.gov/form/dx1.html with a choice of many different variables. You can download the data too.

    Ching Cheh Hungs observations on flares are interesting, he found close by planets such as Mercury are often either overhead when a flare occurs, or at around 30 degrees.

  23. tallbloke says:

    Incoming GCR count has tumbled as a result of the CME.
    http://cr0.izmiran.rssi.ru/mosc/main.htm

  24. tallbloke says:

    Looks like the Scandinavians might have had a nice view of the aurorae:
    http://blogs.discovery.com/.a/6a00d8341bf67c53ef0133f2d4d7d3970b-800wi

  25. Tenuc says:

    Richard Holle says:
    August 3, 2010 at 11:50 pm
    “…That I think is the Earth cutting into the trailing edge of the magnetic envelope of the ion stream from the sun to Neptune. Happens about 15 to 20 degrees for most planetary Synod conjunctions, peaks or saturates for about 3 to 4 days either side of closest alignment, then drops off in one to three steps. Is there a better satellite data base that shows the speed / density of the solar wind better…?”

    Good stuff, Richard! Is it possible that he planets attract solar EM energy in a similar way that lightening is attracted to a point object here on Earth?

    This would mean that there would be a concentration of current density in the heliospheric current sheet, with the planets at the loci, which would be in a state constant change depending on planetary orbital positions and distance from the sun – an intertwined ‘spaghetti’ of Birkland currents.

    “…It is usually from this point forward that the earthquakes start to show up. Along with the increase in moisture carrying positive ions off of the ITCZ becomes quite visible…?”

    Be interesting to see if this recent burst of extra EM hitting Earth triggers any earthquakes or volcanoes.

    I’ve thought for some time there is an electricity plays a part in these energetic events, and wonder if this recent CME will cause Katla to blow?

  26. tallbloke says:

    Tenuc,
    “Is it possible that he planets attract solar EM energy in a similar way that lightening is attracted to a point object here on Earth?”

    I think it’s the other way round. The lightning discharge goes from the pointy metal object to the clouds.

  27. I watch the animation at this link to follow changes in quake production timing at these times….

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsanim/world/

    Should be an active next three months. Has anyone else noticed that the location of the solar flares (in the middle of the face) viewable at;

    follow which hemisphere the lunar declination is in at the same time? I wonder if the coupling is constant, and just surges at synod conjunctions? If this is true we should see a gradual increase in intensity up until a massive coronal hole opens the period 15 September through the 30th September 2010.

  28. DirkH says:

    Hi, here in Hamburg i didn’t spot anything in the nightsky yesterday, luckily there were no clouds at 10 p.m. to 12 p.m. GMT+1, but right about now there’s a rather big thunderstorm, the biggest for months. Maybe related to the drop in cosmic rays, and some electricity from the sun? This is not a heat-induced thunderstorm; our heatwave ended a week ago.

  29. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Saw nothing of note in my skies last night. 40 degrees north, California, clear and still. pg

  30. DirkH says:

    Bolstering the cosmic ray – Svensmark hypothesis, here’s a new paper:
    http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2010/08/paper-cosmoclimatology-is-real.html

  31. DirkH says:

    tallbloke says:
    August 4, 2010 at 9:48 am
    “I think it’s the other way round. The lightning discharge goes from the pointy metal object to the clouds.”

    tallbloke, you shouldn’t think about electricity like negative charges going into one direction… positive charges can be ionised atoms, or they can be holes in a carrier medium for electrons. IOW: When we define voltage relative to a certain charge density, a surplus of electrons would count as a negative voltage; a lack of electrons would result in a less negatively charges medium or a positive voltage.

    In semiconductors, such holes are created intentionally by doting silicon with other atoms that donate only 3 electrons while silicon donates 4 electrons to the cloud of moving charges; providing holes in the electron cloud which are just as mobile as electrons but represent a virtual positive charge.

    Voltages are just potential differences. So whether you say a negative charge moves from A to B or a positive charge moves from B to A is equivalent for most purposes.

  32. tallbloke says:

    Richard: Interesting, we will see how that one pans out.

    Dirk, Thanks, I’m sure you know more than me on this subject. But which end does the lightning flash start to propagate from?

  33. Usually lightning starts as the dielectric breaks down from both sides, the ground side starts with “stepped leaders” that change in height up and down, responding to changes in ionic charge potentials, until the air resistance is broken down, and a connection is made between the upper and lower charge, because of the capacitance and the induction of the suddenly flowing charge, the current flashes both directions alternately until some thing closer to equalization takes place. Then the next strike finds an easy path in the resultant ionized air, so may follow some of the leads of the previous strike.

  34. INGSOC says:

    DirkH says:
    August 4, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    “…but right about now there’s a rather big thunderstorm, the biggest for months. Maybe related to the drop in cosmic rays, and some electricity from the sun? This is not a heat-induced thunderstorm; our heatwave ended a week ago.”

    Interesting. We had a terrific electrical storm here yesterday as well. Ruined my potential aurora viewing, but made for a great show in our narrow little valley.

    And no worries Zeke. As you have hinted (and I would be forced to admit in court) we were all somewhat “under the influence” on the night in question, and rather closer to the upper atmosphere then normal. 😉

    Cheers!

  35. Zeke the Sneak says:

    Ah ha. 🙂

    Well the thing is, you have a far more detailed memory of your electric sky event than I do.

    Further observations are required on the beneficial effects of cheerful concoctions and company while viewing stars and aurorae!

  36. Zeke the Sneak says:

    Adolfo Giurfa says:
    August 3, 2010 at 7:00 pm
    Precisely in 1989 there were two big flares, one of the two provoked the Quebec blackout….and made some jumps in the TSI measuring satellites, which, afterwards, were “conveniently” adjusted…though many more things happened in that year.

    While that solar storm may have knocked out radio, destroyed transformers, and sent powerful electric currents coursing down oil pipelines in AK and Canada, it is important we all keep in mind that JET CONTRAILS affect the earth’s climate far more than the sun does. 😀

  37. Tenuc says:

    INGSOC says:
    August 4, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    DirkH says:
    August 4, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    “…but right about now there’s a rather big thunderstorm, the biggest for months. Maybe related to the drop in cosmic rays, and some electricity from the sun? This is not a heat-induced thunderstorm; our heatwave ended a week ago.”

    Interesting. We had a terrific electrical storm here yesterday as well. Ruined my potential aurora viewing, but made for a great show in our narrow little valley…

    Spooky… We had a massive thunderstorm down in Sunny Sussex yesterday (4 Aug) too!

    There was 45mm of rain over a 3hr period with fork and sheet lightening over a wide recirculating storm front. First major storm in over 2 years. Temperature was 18C.

    Perhaps the atmosphere transferring some of the CME energy jolt?

  38. tallbloke says:

    Any more thunderstorm reports for 3/4 August anyone?