These past few flares aren’t headed towards earth, but the sunspot that’s creating them is rotating in our direction. While the odds of us getting hit by a solar flare big enough to knock out the power grid is pretty low on any given day, we are currently in a solar max cycle. Solar scientists have already come out and stated that the chance of a very large flare hitting the earth is higher for the next few years (see A History of Massive Solar Storms, Humankind faces huge solar storms, Earth has 1-in-8 chance of massive solar megastorm by 2020, Space weather expert has ominous forecast, and On the probability of occurrence of extreme space weather events).
Are you ready for a grid down scenario?
[From SpaceWeather.com — News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids – ]
SIGNIFICANT SOLAR FLARE, NOT EARTH-DIRECTED: A magnetic filament snaking over the sun’s northeastern limb erupted on August 18th (01:02 UT), producing a significant M5.5-class solar flare.
A coronal mass ejection (CME) flew away from the blast site, but the cloud is not heading for Earth. This eruption was not geoeffective.
The magnetic filament reformed, post-eruption, and appears to be connected to an active sunspot group on the farside of the sun. Although the sunspot is hidden behind the limb, the Solar Dynamics Observatory can see the sunspot’s towering magnetic canopy flashing and hurling plasma over the edge of the sun.
A great way to see the hidden sunspot is using NASA’s 3D Sun app, which shows our star as a 3-dimensional globe that you can spin and inspect from any angle. Data for the app come from a fleet of three spacecraft (SDO + STEREO) that surround the sun. Download the app and look around the globe for a hot spot labeled ‘farside AR.’ (AR=”active region”)