Space Weather Monitors- Stanford SOLAR Center

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Predicting Solar Storms - Space Weather Monitors

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 and 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 the Sun. The website 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.

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