Eyes on the Skies

In case you're wondering about all of this solar-storm brouhaha, a couple of our Fellows explain it for you: From Martin LaMonica with CNET News:

Solar storms: Five facts you should know

You may be having a typical Thursday, but the Earth is currently being blasted by a wave of radiation from a huge solar flare.

NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center said the solar storm hit the Earth at about 2:45 a.m. PT. The solar storm is one of the strongest in years and could cause disruptions in satellites, affect radio communications in polar areas, and even slightly decrease the efficiency of solar panels.

This solar storm follows a similarly strong one only two months ago. Here's a short primer on what's going on...Read more.

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And from Seth Borenstein, a science writer with AP, a double-whammy: text AND video!

Biggest solar storm in years races toward Earth

WASHINGTON (AP) — Earth's magnetic field is about to be shaken like a snow globe by the largest solar storm in five years.

After hurtling through space for a day and a half, a massive cloud of charged particles is due to arrive early Thursday and could disrupt utility grids, airline flights, satellite networks and GPS services, especially in northern areas. But the same blast could also paint colorful auroras farther from the poles than normal.

Scientists say the storm, which started with a massive solar flare earlier in the week, is growing as it races outward from the sun, expanding like a giant soap bubble. When it strikes early Thursday, the particles will be moving at 4 million mph.

"It's hitting us right in the nose," said Joe Kunches, a scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo... Read more.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FwyV-HK3kk&feature=player_detailpage