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Space Science

Geomagnetic Storm In Progress 110

shogun writes "The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports a strong geomagnetic storm is in progress. The shuttle, ISS and GPS systems may be affected." They think this storm was caused by a weak solar flare on April 3rd. As you may expect, this has caused some unusually impressive northern lights since it started. What you may not expect is a photograph from Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi aboard the International Space Station showing the aurora from orbit. He apparently tweets a lot of pictures from space. He and his crewmates have taken over 100,000 pictures since coming aboard the ISS.
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Geomagnetic Storm In Progress

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  • by dtmos ( 447842 ) * on Monday April 05, 2010 @03:13PM (#31738828)

    NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center [] has a bunch of data on the storm, including the estimated 3-hour Planetary Kp-index [], and a bunch of other data [] and alerts [].

    A readable description of the relationship between geomagnetic events and aurora can be found here [].

  • Huh (Score:3, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Monday April 05, 2010 @03:15PM (#31738870)
    I wondered what set off my allergies this morning.
  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Monday April 05, 2010 @03:17PM (#31738896)
    You know, Soichi Noguchi, you are doing very little to dispel the classic stereotype of Japanese tourists always with a camera around their neck, taking pictures of everything!
  • twitpic? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Monday April 05, 2010 @03:19PM (#31738938)
    What the heck is "twitpic"?!? It sounds like a web app that twits use to post their pictures... what's that you say? It IS a web app that twits use to post their pictures? Uh... I guess it is aptly name then.
  • But I'd love to see it without the vehicle obscuring it. It would help to get a better visual grasp of the structure of the aurora itself.

    From this you can see that the green glow is low and the red glow above it and diffuse. Without the obscuration you could get a better idea of the pattern of the intersection of the magnetically guided particle stream(s) with the atmosphere.

    • Good idea (Score:5, Funny)

      by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Monday April 05, 2010 @05:05PM (#31740904) Journal

      Tell him to just lean out of the window for a better shot. What could go wrong?

    • From this you can see that the green glow is low and the red glow above it and diffuse.

      You can't even see that. The pic is a long exposure (look at the stars for reference). Makes me wonder what a short exposure time would look like.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        The EXIF on that photo says 13 seconds at ISO 200 and f/2.8 with a Nikon D2Xs. Even though that camera is a 2006 model, I'd think it would have been able to take acceptable ISO800 photos which could chop that exposure down to about 3 seconds or so. I'm going to assume that the camera was modified to remove the Near IR/IR filter, but if not, that would definitely help the reds come through better.

        With less motion, the colors would have been able to compound better, and I'm betting that an ISO800 shot wo
    • He's taking pictures for fun and sharing them. Not for science, but for posterity or public interest, or "cool, look what I got to see". He's posting them for free. From the FUCKING SPACE STATION. 200 miles straight up in the air, traveling at 27 THOUSAND miles per hour, and is able to take pictures and post them on the internet. "Could you please move your hat sir, you're obscuring my view," is a reasonable request. "Could you please move your 300 tonne vehicle out of the way so I can see a few blurr

      • I thank him too. In spades.

        My wish list was not in any way intended to be a gripe about how he did the wonderful things he has been doing. It was intended as an appreciation of what his posting has illustrated so beautifully and a speculation on what else might be done in the future (perhaps by others or even an official project), inspired by what he did so far, to extend it and produce an even more useful teaching aid or perhaps some new science data.

        I'm sorry my post was worded so that this wasn't clear

  • It's too bad they couldn't have sent one up to them on the ISS, they could have used it to take pict... they could have twittered from... they could have at least used it to... hmmm
  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Monday April 05, 2010 @03:38PM (#31739344)

    We're having cloudy weather (big surprise in the Seattle area), but it's sure be nice if this would last another 8-10 hours so we had a chance at seeing the aurora this evening. Unfortunately it's rare down here, and even rarer for it to coincide with a clear night...

  • by The Bad Astronomer ( 563217 ) <thebadastronomer@gmail . c om> on Monday April 05, 2010 @03:40PM (#31739372) Homepage
    FWIW, I posted on my blog [] about this amazing pic from Soichi, explaining it a bit and giving my thoughts.
  • by Old Sparky ( 675061 ) on Monday April 05, 2010 @03:41PM (#31739388)


  • sol has been in its most silent decade ever. and yesterday, suddenly it created a major flare to the extent of creating a strong magnetic storm on earth ?

    i dont buy this.

    • by Aikar ( 1158019 )
      so they are just going to randomly lie about this? for what gain? My phone signal surely has been affected by this. I usually have a solid full bars at work and i'm roaming atm.
    • What isn't there to buy about a solar flare?

      • 5-6 years into its most silent decade, sun suddenly bursts.

        isnt that too abnormal to believe ?

        • No, not really. Its a giant ball of fusion, photons, plasma and gases that is 99.8% of the solar system's mass that is doing all kinds of crap under the surface that we can't see. Hell we don't really know what is going on down there under the surface.

          Why can't this giant ball of fusion have a medium sized solar flare this week without it being beyond the realm of possibility?

          What else would this be other than a solar flare?

          • because it is TOO big to be that irregular. imagine, a huge ball of fusion, will stay silent for close to a decade, then just pop a single strong flare once, suddenly, 'hailing' a new era of activity.

            this is sun, a ball of fusion as you noted. not earth with its tectonic plates and a handful of existing outlets for magma trying to find its way out.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 )

              The Sun isn't "silent", it pulses and puts out massive amounts of energy in irregular fashion all the time. Now for a few years of its 8-10 billion year life it just hasn't been putting out enough to mess things up 93,000,000 miles away.

              This week its sending out some energy, not a giant amount by its scale, just enough to screw with things and light up the sky.

              The ball of fusion does have a lot of movement on its surface and convection currents under the surface, its not a featureless racquet ball except fo

        • And Space Weather shows the sunspot and SOHO shows the CMEs, not like its something the government is saying and there is no evidence of it happening.


          • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

            by unity100 ( 970058 )

            has the activity been slowly picking up to this point ? or it was just announced last week that sun suddenly started an active 'decade' (as if the sun has an obligation to have a frequency of decades for its activities).

            about soho - i dont trust any government controlled agency or their implements.

            • Well, can't really come up with any sources of solar weather that don't have something to do with a government, government agency or enterprise that has government funding so...

              Well, this little bit of solar weather isn't because its suddenly an active decade, its just a couple solar farts of CME and energy hitting the Earth.

              The sunspots and activity is coming back up and they aren't sure why or how, which isn't unusual because no one is really sure how it all works. I can link and you can ignore it because

              • i have deep mistrust of nasa due to their extreme closedness, cover-up and hushhush culture and their employer, us. govt.

                had it been an european space agency, i would at least be sure of som independency.

                • SOHO is a joint operation of NASA and ESA. Unfortunately all the solar observation satellites up there are NASA or shared with NASA right now.

                  So you don't trust NASA or the University of Alaska Fairbanks for solar weather, you don't trust the weather reports because NOAA gathers weather data and the US government put up the weather satellites?

                  • no sir. not as long as those national security oaths are required to be signed by u.s. government for everyone getting involved in astronomy or space programs, including numerous 'security treaties that extend their tentacles to whomever is collaborating with them, including europe.

                    • well, you were rather low in the trenches. had you had any possibility of access to serious stuff, like an observatory time, or radio telescope, or direct video from the space station, things would be different.

            • That seems like something you should have looked up before making baseless assumptions.

              But then again, they wouldn't be baseless assumptions if you researched things before you asked them. Seriously, this isnt a classroom from the 1950's, you are already on the internet if you are posting here, how hard is it to look that up?

              While you are looking things up, you can build your own ground based magnetometer in your own house and see what happens during a geomagnetic storm, based on the same principles of sc

              • you should wake up to the fact that every magnetic effect on a given planet does not have to come from the sun.

                • Surely, that was a typo. You meant to write 'come from the Earth'... not 'come from the sun', right?

                  That is after all, what is being measured here. The prefix 'geo-' in geomagnetic storm the article is talking about means 'Earth'. That is where the field is coming from, the Earth. The sun is simply throwing charged particles into that field, again from the Earth, at a rate that hasnt been seen since 2006. This is producing storm level flux for the first time in a few years in the Earths' magnetic field


                  • The sun is simply throwing charged particles into that field, again from the Earth, at a rate that hasnt been seen since 2006

                    sun is not the only body that would create, or reflect particles coming towards it. any other planetary body in action can reflect a portion of whatever particle it is receiving to earth, if its nearby.

  • Aurora Watch (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cflange ( 1208152 ) on Monday April 05, 2010 @04:10PM (#31739886) Homepage
    To watch the geomagnetic activity live, check AuroraWatch: []
    You can also subscribe to receive e-mail alerts about probable Northern Lights.
    From the website: "AuroraWatch forecasts are made by examining the behaviour of the Earth's magnetic field strength, which is measured by ground-based magnetometers."
  • by canada_dry ( 830702 ) on Monday April 05, 2010 @04:11PM (#31739910) Journal
    ... Toyota has issued a statement asking Prius owners to wrap their cars in tin foil before driving.
  • Holiday... (Score:3, Funny)

    by tonywestonuk ( 261622 ) on Monday April 05, 2010 @04:23PM (#31740156)

    So, here I am in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but a 3g Dongle and suddenly this Geomagnetic storms£(*&^SGU &@*(&((clkxjnx..........NO CARRIER

  • yay for govt! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by morethanthesky ( 1783562 ) on Monday April 05, 2010 @04:28PM (#31740254)
    This is cool as it is on the heals of this story: [] in which airplanes will now rely only on GPS
  • Stargate SG-1 (Score:2, Interesting)

    This reminds me of the Stargate SG-1 episode "Window of Opportunity" where Earth and several other planets get stuck in a "Groundhog Day" type scenario, and only Jack O'Neill and Teal'c realize what's happening.
    • by shogun ( 657 )

      The original submission had tags referring to that episode but the editors have apparently removed it.

      Also why am I not surprised someone with 'Anubis' in their username is making the above post?

  • Aurora is so beautiful yet its appearance means something devastating could potentially happen to our TV signal, our electricity gird, our internet, well... our entire life !
    • Oh dear (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Monday April 05, 2010 @05:16PM (#31741082) Journal

      Contrary to what you seem to believe, TV/Internet and electricity are NOT all there is to life. Yes really.

      Sure some slashdotters will die as they are exposed to the harsh rays of the sun when they wander outside for the first time but life will continue on. Some people with no healthy fear of hights will repair the cables and voila, everything be back to normal.

      We had power failures before. They are no big deal. Go outside, empty the fridge and have a party. You know. With girls... oh okay, you can remain in the kitchen and look through the window at them, while you build a computer out of egg-cartons.

      Mind you, I got a phone-jammer, that I sometimes use just for fun. It is amusing to see just how people react when their cell phone dies. Some really do react as if you cut the umbilical cord.

      In a way, it would be an intresting social experiment. Cut the power/internet over the entire globe and see how each culture/area reacts to it. Why do some disaster areas result in looting and rioting and others remain calm? You can't really compare disasters but a global strike like this would be easier to compare. Would there be riots all over? None at all? Only in certain economic areas? Or (oh boy I am going to get it for this one) does it depend on race? Culture? Local leadership?

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Kagura ( 843695 )
        I got a phone jammer too, so I can block unnecessary EM radiation from the nearby cell towers.
      • by Xoltri ( 1052470 )
        If you read books you might be interested to read One Second After by William R Forstchen. It's about an EMP blast that kills all electronic devices and the aftermath.
  • All his tweets are "from phone". What carrier gets reception up there is what I want to know.
  • will this affect my GPS for geocaching?

    Beautiful pictures, BTW...I have never seen them in person, they've got to be just that cooler from space. Space! SPACE!!!!

    Sigh, back to work in my little cube.

  • by mad flyer ( 589291 ) on Monday April 05, 2010 @06:35PM (#31742262)

    I'm on their various maillists since I discovered that sensible electronic tend to crash better when there is solar activity. (My old Palm III was resetting it's memory everytime their was anykind of solar burps). But their annoucement are cryptical at best. And last evening their mail said that:

    Space Weather Message Code: WARK06
    Serial Number: 162
    Issue Time: 2010 Apr 05 1831 UTC

    CANCEL WARNING: Geomagnetic K-Index of 6 expected
    Cancel Serial Number: 161
    Original Issue Time: 2010 Apr 05 1427 UTC

    Comment: Earlier indications of anticipated geomagnetic storm activity are no
    longer present.

    NOAA Space Weather Scale descriptions can be found at

    Which sounds like the opposite of the Slashdot summary...

    • Well that's because they realized it was actually 300,000 iPads searching desperately for the nearest WiFi hotspot all at once :)

  • I was outside last night at 3AM, and... instead of being sort of greenish and dancing slowly, they were, very dim, pale white, and were almost like... strobes, pulsing, instead of a slow dance. Neat stuff :-)

  • MOO (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG ( 946591 ) on Monday April 05, 2010 @07:44PM (#31743042)

    Geomagnetic Storm in Progress in the Sol System

    No ships may enter hyperspace during this turn.

  • I have been here 9 months and still have not seen any lights. I am unlucky or need to move farther away from city.

  • It was the collission of electromagnetic energy from 300,000 iPads being turned on next to 700,000 people pretending they don't want one.

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.