Predicting Solar Storms
Some conditions in space have the potential to seriously affect us on Earth.
We call these conditions space weather.
The causes can include radiation
storms and ejections from the Sun as well disturbances in the Earth's
magnetic field caused by the Sun. Besides triggering beautiful auroras, these
solar storms can damage satellites, disrupt power grids and electrical
systems, interfer with cell phones and other communications, and disturb
animal movements. They can even threaten astronauts and high-flying airplanes
with their radiation.
To predict which sunspots or magnetically active regions on the
Sun might produce flares and solar storms, you need to be
intimately familiar with the activities of
Tracking a Solar Storm
Tracking a Solar Storm (IMAGE version).
These will teach you what data resources are available
and what aspects
of solar activity and its effects on Earth will need to be tracked.
You will also need to understand that the Sun rotates and,
specifically, it rotates differentially -- meaning that different latitudes
on the Sun rotate at different speeds.
What these exercizes do not include is how to start searching for
sunspots on the "backside" or farside of the Sun. New technology
from the Stanford Solar Observatories
Group now allows us to "see through" the Sun to observe sunspots
forming even before they rotate around to the front of the disk.
With this data and imagery you can actually watch sunspots
form, change, grow, and eventually merge onto the face of
Magnetic Maps of the Whole Sun includes both still and
movie images of the farside and nearside of the Sun.
Remind your students that his data is targeted primarily to solar
researchers, so they will need to do some background reading to
better understand what is happening.
Once students develop predictions of solar activity, they will need
to use their SID or AWESOME monitors to monitor and track
their predictions and success rate.