We know what the sun is and does, but have you ever considered what occurs on the surface of the sun? Space weather is a critical component of our space program and NOAA. The sun factors into that equation too.
I learned something new today about the sun. There are solar cycles on the sun and in 2025 the sun is about to show us her solar maximum. She is revving up for that now with a variety of solar situations and phenomena.
For instance, there was a three day long solar tornado that was nothing short of massive. It was the size of fourteen earths or approximately one-hundred eleven thousand miles high! That is very tall! Normal solar tornadoes are fifteen thousand to sixty -two thousand miles high. This one lasted from March 15th thru the 18th. IT finally twisted itself out of shape and stopped. It was the biggest one ever to be recorded.
On earth our tornadoes are shaped from the wind. On the surface of the sun these tornadoes are shaped by magnetism. They begin as what is commonly termed a solar prominence and are horseshoe shaped. As they get caught in the magnetic field of the sun they rotate and twist until they become a tornado.
Many times, these solar tornadoes come about because there were lesser incidents that occurred in a short period of time that led up to the biggie. Usually these are simple solar flares. Solar flares are known to weaken the suns magnetic field allowing even more corona activity.
On March 24th there was an intensely strong solar storm that made it’s way down to earth. It was so strong that it moved the Northern Lights way south. People were able to view the splendid color changes in the sky as far south as Alabama, New Mexico, Colorado, and Northern California. Winds more than 1.3 million miles per hour ushered it in. It slipped in almost without notice. It was termed a G4. A 5 is the top!
What happened here on earth? Our magnetic field was compressed allowing the auroras to move considerably south toward the equator. This movement triggers a geomagnetic storm that can disrupt communication and other technological equipment. Naturally, as the solar maximum gets closer, we can expect to have more and more solar activity and that probably means more disruptions.
The last solar minimum was in 2019. Once the solar minimum concludes it begins solar maximum phase. These cycles are approximately eleven years in duration with the peaks about midway into that cycle.
We need to care about this solar phenomena because space weather can affect the weather and other things here on earth.