Meanwhile here at home...
On November 4, 2003 a solar flare, the most powerful ever recorded saturated the X-ray detectors on monitoring satellites. The associated coronal mass ejection (CME) about the size of 36 Earths came out of the Sun's surface at about 2300 kilometers per second (8.2 million km/h). Only part of the CME was directed towards Earth, so we only received a glancing blow. Thank goodness! This flare topped out the scale at X28.
March 13 1989In less than a minute, Quebec lost half of its electrical power generation. Automatic load-reduction systems tried to restore a balance between the loads connected to the power grid, and the massive loss of capacity now available. One by one, the load-reduction systems disconnected towns and regions across Quebec, but to no avail. Domestic heating and lighting systems began to flicker and go out. Eight seconds later at 2:45:24 AM, power swings tripped the supply lines from the 2,200 megawatt Churchill Falls generation complex. By 2:45:32 AM, the entire Quebec power grid collapsed, and most of the province found itself without power. The cascading of events was much too fast for human operators to react, but it was more than enough time for 21,500 megawatts of badly needed electrical power to suddenly disappear from service. Click here to continue
The Tinfoil Hat Boys present the TFB-SAM1 v1.0
The Solar Alerts Module from the Tinfoil Hat Boys might have helped in 1989 who knows, doubt it; but it sure is entertaining. Essentially a custom HTML module for Joomla 1.5 that displays current solar and geomagnetic field status messages and alerts that are freely available from n3kl.org. It comes pre-styled but you can of course modify the included CSS file. It has TOES these are icons with links to Space Weather Information, the TOES may be turned off in the modules options if you wish. The module also has the option of enabling JCE popups. If you like that sort of thing.
Solar flares are classified according to their brightness in the x-ray wavelengths. There are four categories: For flares the scale is B, C, M, X, with each one representing 10x more power. A number following the class indicates another factor of output, from 1-9. At the high end, the X class goes higher than 9 because there is no higher letter classification. So an X28 flare is about 3 times larger than the biggest flare anybody thought would occur. This flare goes to eleven!
X-CLASS: These are major events that can trigger radio blackouts around the whole world and long-lasting radiation storms in our upper atmosphere M-CLASS: These are medium-sized flares; they generally cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth's polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare. C-CLASS:These flares are small with few noticeable consequences.
In the long term the geophysical effects are not easy to track but they are thought to include disturbed weather patterns with increased risk of quakes and volcanic eruptions. Events of this nature also have medical and emotional consequences. A Russian study confirmed that solar eruptions do result in an increased incidence of strokes and heart attacks. Emotionally the effects are of widely fluctuating feelings that at worst can result in broken relationships, despair and depression. Intense solar activity has the potential to spark social unrest even to the point of inciting war, riots and revolution.
The X-ray Solar status monitor downloads data periodically from the NOAA Space Environment Center FTP server. The previous 24 hours of 5 minute Long-wavelength data from each satellite (GOES 8 and GOES 10) is analyzed, and an appropriate level of activity for the past 24 hours is assigned.
The Solar Alerts Module began its life as some links in a website long ago, then as a module in the CMS Nuke and now with me in Joomla. Seeing as Joomla has been good me, I should give something back, so with my limited programming skills I hacked up this simple module. I hope you enjoy it and you find it as entertaining as we do. Lets hope that someday we don't look up and see a large black spot on the face of the sun as Shiva the Destroyer turns his eye to us.