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“Cosmic rays have hit a space age high”

By | 2009-10-06T15:45:25+00:00 October 6th, 2009|Astronomy|

No, it’s not science fiction!!cosmic_rays.jpg

, galactic cosmic rays have intensified 19% over the past 50 years.  Scientists believe that the cause of this increase is the solar minimum which began in 2007 and is still occurring.

The sun’s magnetic field is our first line of defense against these highly-charged, energetic particles. The entire solar system from Mercury to Pluto and beyond is surrounded by a bubble of magnetism called “the heliosphere.” It springs from the sun’s inner magnetic dynamo and is inflated to gargantuan proportions by the solar wind. When a cosmic ray tries to enter the solar system, it must fight through the heliosphere’s outer layers; and if it makes it inside, there is a thicket of magnetic fields waiting to scatter and deflect the intruder.

Because of the solar minimum, the Sun has lost some of its power to deflect the cosmic rays from Earth.  Scientists say that there’s nothing to worry about, and that hundreds of years ago the force of the cosmic rays was much worse.  Still, a correlation between the influx of cosmic radiation and an increased risk of cancer has been shown . Other scientists suggest that an increase in cosmic rays […]

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Solar news

By | 2009-09-25T08:00:21+00:00 September 25th, 2009|Astronomy|

is reporting that a new sunspot created a C-class solar flare.  Normally this would not be much to write home about, but since we’re in the middle of the deepest solar minimum in 100 years, a solar flare is a big event!

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Are we heading into another “little ice age?”

By | 2009-09-13T07:44:42+00:00 September 13th, 2009|Astronomy|

Maybe the solar warming skeptics are on to something.  As you probably know, we are in a very deep solar minimum, with over 700 days with absolutely no sunspot activity since 2004. In fact, some scientists are beginning to speculate that :

“Sunspot magnetic fields are dropping by about 50 gauss per year,” says Penn. “If we extrapolate this trend into the future, sunspots could completely vanish around the year 2015.”

This disappearing act is possible because sunspots are made of magnetism. The “firmament” of a sunspot is not matter but rather a strong magnetic field that appears dark because it blocks the upflow of heat from the sun’s interior. If Earth lost its magnetic field, the solid planet would remain intact, but if a sunspot loses its magnetism, it ceases to exist.

Between 1645 and 1715 or so, another spotless period later became known as the  “Maunder Minimum,” and happened to coincide with the beginning of the “little ice age” that spread through Europe causing bitterly cold winters.  However, the cold spell lasted well beyond the end of the Solar Minimum period, leading many scientists to dispute the correlation.

Much of the panic over 2012 and the end of the Mayan calendar also relates to the idea that this will be the year of the peak solar maximum.  If the solar cycle behaved as it was supposed to, we would be peaking during the period from 2011 to 2012.  Some scientists are predicting an even stronger peak because of the minimum.

The fact is, no one knows.  And isn’t that one of the exciting mysteries of life!

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A new sunspot cycle?

By | 2009-05-06T07:37:49+00:00 May 6th, 2009|Astronomy|

The current Solar Minimum cycle has had 619 days of a spot-free Sun (as compared with the typical solar minimum of 485 days).  But Spaceweather reports today that a new active region on the Sun produced a Coronal Mass Ejection and a burst of radio emissions on the far side of the Sun that probably points to a new sunspot.

Increased solar activity affects satellite transmissions on Earth, and it seems to me that it likely affects the human electrical fields as well.  The next sunspot cycle is expected to peak in 2012, leading some scientists to issue dire warnings about the collapse of the electrical grid.

suggests that the CME will be visible from earth over the next couple of days and more information will be available then.

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Tsunami on the Sun

By | 2018-06-11T12:14:45+00:00 April 4th, 2008|Astronomy|

Thanks to Julie for bringing this to my attention:

Astronomers have captured the first footage of a solar “tsunami” hurtling through the Sun’s atmosphere at over a million kilometres per hour.

The event was captured by Nasa’s twin Stereo spacecraft designed to make 3D images of our parent star.

Naturally, this type of tsunami does not involve water; instead, it is a wave of pressure that travels across the Sun very fast.

In a solar tsunami, a huge explosion near the Sun, such as a coronal mass ejection or flare, causes a pressure pulse to propagate outwards in a circular pattern. …

“In half an hour, we saw the tsunami cover almost the full disc of the Sun, nearly a million kilometres away from the epicentre.”

“The fact that this region of the Sun spewed out two major flares just a day apart “implies that there must have been some kind of tremendous energy buildup”, Balasubramaniam [of the National Solar Observator in Sunspot New Mexico] told New Scientist.

The buildup of energy is thought to be related to the twisting of the Sun’s magnetic field. Such a large buildup and release of energy on the Sun is a rare occurrence, and especially unusual around solar minimum, when the Sun is normally at its quietest.

Electromagnetic activity on the Sun has been known to cause disruptive effects on earth satellites and other devices, and the energy field surrounding the human body has an electromagnetic component which is tuned in to electrical waves that are all around us. Events like this are a fascinating way to look at the connection between the Sun’s energy and our own electrical fields.

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Jupiter/Saturn, sunspot cycles, and 2012

By | 2018-07-16T12:08:06+00:00 November 15th, 2007|Science|

Thanks to  for finding  about the research of the late Rhodes Fairbridge of the effects of Jupiter on our earthly climate. It has been known for some time that Jupiter has an effect on sunspots which correlate to changes in our climate, but no one really understood why. It turns out the answer may be in the relationship between Jupiter and Saturn.

At times, the sun is at the solar system’s centre of gravity. Most often, this is not the case– the orbit of the planets will align planets to one side or another of the sun. Jupiter, the planet with by far the largest mass, most influences the solar system’s centre of gravity. When Uranus, Neptune and especially Saturn — the next largest planet — join Jupiter on one side of the solar system, the solar system’s centre of gravity shifts well beyond the sun.The sun’s own orbit, he found, has eight characteristic patterns, all determined by Jupiter’s position relative to Saturn, with the other planets playing much lesser roles. Some of these eight have orderly orbits, smooth and near-circular. During such orbits, solar activity is high and Earth heats up. Some of the eight orbits are chaotic, taking a loop-the-loop path. These orbits correspond to quiet times for the sun [solar minimum], and cool periods on Earth. Every 179 years or so, the sun embarks on a new cycle of orbits. One of the cooler periods in recent centuries was the Little Ice Age of the 17th century, when the Thames River in London froze over each winter. The next cool period, if the pattern holds, began in 1996, with the effects to be felt starting in 2010. Some predict three decades of severe cold.

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