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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 1:55 pm 
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We have a coronal hole, not geoeffective, and a solar filament. Go find pictures of the latter. It's huge. For a time, it was across most of the face of the sun that we see from Earth. Long skinny thing, like looking down at a road from a plane. Awesome.

The dreaded Bz is still strongly north, so that one isn't doing anything either.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 2:32 pm 
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We've had minor storming on and off every couple of days with more of the awesome aurora this cycle is known for. Hardly any is from sunspots or flares. The sun is just a very busy place right now. There are other activities like eruptions and coronal holes going, and occasionally one is geoeffective.

Forecast is for more of the same, none of it particularly distressing.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 01, 2015 1:54 pm 
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I got this email from my cable provider the other day. They've never done this before.



The Story Behind Sun Outages

Twice each year, once during the spring and once during the fall, the earth and the sun are aligned in a way that can interfere with television broadcast satellites. This may cause issues with the picture on your cable channels.

How will this affect me?
For about 10-20 minutes each day, at some point between 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., you may experience some degree of tiling, pixelation, poor audio, or other reception issues. Your internet and/or phone service will not be affected.

When do sun outages occur?
The outages may occur for about 10-20 minutes at the same time each day during the outage period. The outage period varies depending on where you live. The outage period is February 26 - March 6 in Washington, February 27 - March 7 in Oregon, and March 1 - March 9 in California.

A second outage period may occur from March 8 - March 15, but will only affect channels received from Asia, such as CCTV and The Filipino Channel. This outage will take place every day during the outage period between 9:50 a.m. and 10:10 a.m.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 2:35 pm 
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Solar outages are caused by the Earth's position in a period slightly displaced from the equinoxes. What happens is that the sun crosses through the Clarke belt. When seen from the ground, that's the part of the sky where geostationary communication satellites occupy fixed positions. When the sun is lined up to be right behind some satellite as seen from some ground station, weak solar radiations are received along with the not much stronger satellite signal at that station. This causes interference. The sun goes on its merry way, or to be exact the Earth does, and the interference goes away.

The Weather Channel has been known to talk about these. When it was more geeky and less melodramatic, it would say things like, if people on (some cable network) are getting noise, it's the sun. Now they're more interested in naming winter storms and getting Cantore excited over thundersnow.

One year I tried to predict these. I had the satellite positions from the guides telling you where to point dishes. I had a program to calculate the sun's position. I had my own position from Google Earth. I only hit one of them right on, but it was dramatic. The bird with about 5 cable channels you've heard of had the outage right on schedule, and those channels got noisy while others didn't. Then it cleared up right on schedule.

A similar effect exists around the equinoxes for strategic early warning radar. It's caused at least one major nuclear war scare when the software took the noise for a zillion incoming warheads.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2015 1:46 pm 
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Ominous looking region 2297 has been kicking out M-class flares since it became visible a few days back. Today, as it rotates into a more geoeffective position, it finally came up with a dandy X2.2 about an hour and 15 minutes ago. In this weenie cycle, that ties it with one last June at the bottom of the Top Ten Flare List.

Yes, there was an HF blackout in the US, which is over, and a possible CME still being assessed. I'd put the odds pretty good.

However, the chances of a Carrington Event from this one are somewhere between zero and none.

In the absence of other activity, the X-ray plot is pretty striking. We're bopping along all flatlined and suddenly kablammo. Up two magnitudes in the time it takes to say "two magnitudes." Now it's dropping off.

The RF apparently had its moments too:

ALERT: Type II Radio Emission
Begin Time: 2015 Mar 11 1623 UTC
Estimated Velocity: 1461 km/s
Description: Type II emissions occur in association with eruptions on the sun and typically indicate a coronal mass ejection is associated with a flare event.

ALERT: Type IV Radio Emission
Begin Time: 2015 Mar 11 1638 UTC
Description: Type IV emissions occur in association with major eruptions on the sun and are typically associated with strong coronal mass ejections and solar radiation storms.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 17, 2015 12:28 pm 
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Damn. Everything happens while I'm asleep.

Last night we had a sudden storm commencement, which strengthened all night long when the dreaded Bz went south, literally and figuratively. The result right now is a severe (G4, Kp=8) geomagnetic storm. It's the biggest one of this solar cycle.

You will notice that we're still here. That is, unless someone froze to death last night shooting the best aurora since digital photography was invented. It's awesome. It surprised even me. It's the Perfect Magnetic Storm for aurora, 4 days before the equinox. This position affects a lot more things than the sunset in Manhattan.

In conditions like this, aurora in Los Angeles is not impossible, though it's better to have a K=9 for that. Right now I hear no auroral flutter on low-latitude signals. When WWV gets gurgly, it's aurora time in L.A..

This is one of the highest Kp indices I've seen in my life. Not THE highest, since it got to 9 last cycle, but high.

Were there to be a Carrington Event, this is the pattern which would cause it. There are flares, eruptions, and coronal holes in geoeffective positions. But it didn't. Things didn't phase just right. They only have done so once since we kept records of such things, though in geological time that's an eye blink.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 18, 2015 1:10 pm 
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The aurora photos on the Internet keep coming, and they are unbelievable. We do have a Perfect Magnetic Storm here. It's the best aurora in decades, and also people have the tools to photograph it. There aren't many situations where digital photography can be said to absolutely beat film hands down, but this is one of them.

What's striking is the multiple colors. This means we are seeing aurora in different levels of the atmosphere at the same time. Usually aurora is red or green, depending on your latitude, but this time in places like Alaska it's both. It's also bright, and more of a general airglow than the usual curtain effect. This stuff's cranking.

Kp indices are down to minor storm level, and the dreaded Bz just flipped from hugely negative (allows storming) to well positive (tends to diminish it). We shall see.

The thing to remember is that you just had two days of a highly significant geomagnetic event, and you didn't even notice it unless you were trying to hear something from halfway around the world on the HF band, or working freak skip on VHF.

There may be some shortening of the life of geostationary satellites, but I don't know if this happened. It's just not that scary.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:44 pm 
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Into day three of what they're now calling The St. Patrick's Day Storm of 2015. Minor storming continues.

Spaceweather.com has an interesting screen shot of what a trans-Pacific path on the 30 meter ham radio band looked like on a spectrograph program that just happened to be running at the time of the sudden commencement. You see several ultra-low-power "QRSS" Morse code stations fuzz out and shift frequencies. You see the fuzzy traces rise in frequency and then go down, almost in sync with the magnetic field shifts that are charted to determine the K index.

I've always been amazed by this. Radio signals actually shift frequency and time, in a turbulent and very audible manner. It sounds like you're sitting inside a Leslie speaker. WWV time and frequency standards become neither. Reality dissolves.

The ionosphere is a very strange place.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 12:22 pm 
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Brief storm periods go in and out. They're weak, but they keep things stirred up a little.

The responsible solar region that pulled the trigger (but wasn't the sole cause) blew off another nice C class long-duration flare with a heroic CME. But that region has rotated off, and now it's some other planet's problem. Nothing about it is geoeffective in the least.

Equinox is this afternoon (US time). That's right, an equinox, a solar eclipse, and a geomagnetic storm all in the same day.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 8:42 pm 
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been hearing of some really bad mooooods the last weekish.
intercontinental bad moooods.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:40 pm 
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Brief stormy periods continue. In and out. Up and down.

I was in a bad mood, but not because of the Earth's magnetic field. When Middle Eastern countries go fascist and/or collapse, it doesn't take a Faraday effect to get me going.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 1:57 pm 
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Still in a bad mood watching France go right wing, but that's not from geomagnetic activity. Foil hats won't help bad-economy despotism.

We are still getting some very nice aurora up north due to negative Bz. Aurora is then expected to increase in the next couple of days, due to coronal holes, not flares. It's kind of like predicting hurricanes, but we'll see.

The coronal holes show up well in certain light wavelengths, and the current ones are huge. They're areas of accelerated solar wind, and when this is geoeffective it can bounce things around a bit when it gets out to where we are. But only a bit compared to a real full-blown X13 or so flare or well-timed series of flares.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2015 6:31 pm 
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On March 28 during the afternoon it seemed like the sun was especially hot. I went inside.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 12:42 pm 
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That's IR. :-) Solar flares are more about UV and X-ray.

Increased IR in California is a different problem. It relates to The Great Fossil Fuel Misadventure. It has the same general causes as the rather dramatic snow situation so widely publicized yesterday by the governor and the DWP guy with his bone-dry 10-foot pole.

Far as UV goes:

"I don't worry about the ozone layer
Or what might come through
When I go out I keep my clothes on
My problem is you."

-- Jackson Browne

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:31 pm 
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We're back in an extend storming period, but it's from coronal holes and it's weak storming at best. It makes it to G2 on a good day. Mostly, once again (seems like a loop) some awesome aurora.

Flaring has been kind of pissy. The sun actually has a very nice case of the zits right now, with three large active regions rotating into view, but the flare activity so far is medium class C with the occasional M, but nothing even approaching X.

We're still very much in a peak solar period, and there have been all manner of awesome prominences, filaments, and eruptions. We have the hardware to photograph these from space now, and the pictures are pretty incredible. Check out the one this guy got:

http://spaceweathergallery.com/indiv_up ... cfb9n75oi2

That thing is two earth-moon distances high. It's moving at around half light speed. That's fast enough for Special Relativity to kick in. It has a different time scale than we do.

For the really hair-raising stuff though, it's hard to beat the various coronagraphs in space. When you read "a CME missed the earth" what it looks like on these is that the sun has blown up. It hasn't. Just good lighting. Amazing to see, though. The ones we worry about cause a full halo around the sun usually followed by little bright specks from particles hitting the photo sensors.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 17, 2015 1:25 pm 
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Oops, obviously our Mr. Strange guy shot his from the ground, but he got a nice if blurry look at the whole thing. SDO in space has a much sharper photo, but it's earlier since otherwise it wouldn't get it all in.

SDO has an extremely broadband downlink, and moves some serious data. The photos are amazing.

Here's a nice CME from an older bird at a LaGrange point. It gets good shots with a coronagraph. That little circle in the middle is where the solar disk would be. Yes, that little thing's the whole sun.

Image

Kablammo! But missed the earth.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 18, 2015 3:01 pm 
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It's worth it to find a current image of the sun and see how spotty the Northern Hemisphere is. These aren't very strong spots, though they have run the radio flux up to a respectable if not terrific 150. They're sure impressive to look at, though.

The Bahrain Grand Prix is at twilight, and every day they show the sun setting behind the race track. It's in a layer of dust and crud, and it's possible to zoom all the way in on it, which they've been doing frequently. You clearly see all the sunspots. This is good stuff.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:57 pm 
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After the nice case of the zits a couple of weeks back, everything rotated off the visible disk, and suddenly we're the closest to spotnil in years. This cycle is creepy. Even the sun has stopped following what we thought were the rules.

I think the whole solar thing is epiphenomenal to climate change. That's a fancy Greek word for "looks related, but isn't." People have tried to spin the facts to make it look like we're in some kind of lagging climate peak caused by the all-time solar peak in 1958, but that gets harder to prove every year.

What we do have now is a BIG ASS coronal hole. The sun remains rather active in other ways. It blew off a huge filament and the resulting hole could crank up geomagnetic activity. It won't, they say, due to orientation. But it's sure big.

And there's a publication which finds evidence for nanoflares, billions of 'em, all going off all the time, as the primary engine for heating the corona and causing all this space weather we're so into observing. Each nanoflare is about the same energy as a high yield strategic nuke, around 10 MT. This is a piffle on the sun, but there are a lot of them.

Supposedly the physics is the same as the big flares we look at. Bursts of energy from broken and reconnecting magnetic lines.

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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2015 3:36 pm 
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BIG ASS solar flare (X2.7) about a day ago. 8th largest in this cycle. Not geoeffective. Right now, any large flares from this huge active region (#2239) will be pointed earthward. However, it seems disinclined to make anything more above class M.

The recent brief boink in Kp was from a filament eruption, not a flare.

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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2015 5:07 pm 
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ZoWie did you and your dad ever have issues regarding flash bulbs?

The filament eruption kind, which were expensive, and would only flash once.


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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2015 4:14 pm 
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I actually had an old press flash around for a long time. The bulbs were huge, hard to find, and they cost a fortune. They went off like fireworks. But if you needed to light the whole side of a building or something similar, they were still cheaper and brighter than large strobes.

Now with digital you just keep the shutter open forever. No reciprocity failure.

Region #2339 (note corrected number) is even bigger now, and it is a most impressive solar feature. It should show up on anything safe to point at the sun. If the TV zooms in on the setting sun at a ballpark, it'll be impossible to miss. However, it's only making C class flares, for now anyway.

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PostPosted: Fri May 08, 2015 6:06 pm 
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In the summer of 1972 I was on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls at night. It was the funnest of things, lots of people were popping in and out expensive flash bulbs to take photos of the falls.

The falls were way too far away. I thought about a whole year of that and the wastage I was seeing was considerable. I wondered at the time why someone didn't just put up a sign along the railing to save that film and flash bulbs.

Some of them were using those Instamatic cheap cameras and those flash bulb strips. I never did figure out how the camera could fire one bulb at a time. How did the camera know which bulbs had been fired and which ones were left, I didn't see enough connectors on the strip where it plugged onto the camera for it to have worked by any control method I knew about at the time. I kind of remember there being four connectors, and the strip had 6 or 8 bulbs.


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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 12:21 am 
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The best thing for lighting Niagara is the sun.

I too marvel at the forever popping flashes in places where all they'll do is light up the foreground and make it actually harder to see the tourist attraction off in the distance. I can't think of a camera where you can't turn off the flash.

Flash strips hmmmmm. Wait, I think I have it. Let's have a row of bulbs each with a couple of circuit elements that are sensitive to temperature up against each bulb. Every bulb has an open circuit to a power bus except for the first one. When the camera flashes the bulb, the closed-circuit element fails open, taking the bulb off the bus. Now, the other element melts or whatever and fails shorted, connecting the next bulb so that it's no longer open-circuited. And so on.

I'm dizzy, but I can't see why this wouldn't work.

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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 8:47 am 
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Personally I don't understand the attraction of the falls.

Though they're only about an hour away and I've been to the Falls many times.

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PostPosted: Sat May 09, 2015 10:13 pm 
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The best thing for lighting Niagara is the sun.

I too marvel at the forever popping flashes in places where all they'll do is light up the foreground and make it actually harder to see the tourist attraction off in the distance. I can't think of a camera where you can't turn off the flash.

Flash strips hmmmmm. Wait, I think I have it. Let's have a row of bulbs each with a couple of circuit elements that are sensitive to temperature up against each bulb. Every bulb has an open circuit to a power bus except for the first one. When the camera flashes the bulb, the closed-circuit element fails open, taking the bulb off the bus. Now, the other element melts or whatever and fails shorted, connecting the next bulb so that it's no longer open-circuited. And so on.

I'm dizzy, but I can't see why this wouldn't work.


That would work, once you mentioned it, it occurred to me that is the way Christmas tree lights work. And they do work, so that would also work.

When a blub fails it no longer causes the whole string to go out, a shunt welds together the two leads in the failed bulb and the string continues to be lit. Although the voltage across the remaining bulbs is increased by the factor of the failed bulb.

One night I saw a bulb fail in an old string, and all the other bulbs got a bit brighter. And they already were burning pretty bright for old bulbs. Then all of a sudden another one failed, and another, and another. Each time the remaining bulbs got brighter, and they were popping off faster and faster. I tried to get up from a chair and unplug it, but I didn't move fast enough, by the time I got to the plug they were all gone. So much for that.

That's why they put those miniature fuses in the plug. :|


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