image credit: NASA/SDO/AIA

Today, in honor of International Women’s Day, the Sun is bombarding the Earth with magnetic energy.

Apparently someone (the Sun) doesn’t like women (the Moon) very much.

OK, it’s a poor joke, but there’s a recession on.

Seriously though, the largest solar storm in five years is sending some bad juju our way. On the plus side, someone who doesn’t live in cold northern wasteland might for once catch at glimpse of the famed Aurora Borealis. (Notice how I didn’t immediately follow with ‘or Northern Lights’ as is customary).

A pair of solar flares earlier in the week has triggered the solar storms, which resulted in a coronal mass ejection, or enormous ball of gas, speeding towards the Earth at 2,000km per second, explains Doug Biesiecker of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

From BBC News:

The incoming cloud of charged particles could affect satellites and will launch a geomagnetic storm in the Earth’s protective magnetic field, Mr Beisiecker told the BBC.

Previous large solar storms have resulted in blackouts and communications failures. Concerns are that this storm could affect GPS systems and airplane communications.

As of this morning, high frequency radio over the Polar Regions has already been affected by the radiation storm.

Potential dangers from these kinds of solar storms are apparently not direct and result from our dependence on satellites and similar equipment.

From the Independent:

Scientists have warned governments that society is more vulnerable to the geomagnetic storms caused by solar flares than during the last solar maxium in the 1990s because of the increased reliance on delicate electrical technology that can be easily disrupted.

So if you’re concerned, don’t fly over the Poles today and use a map instead of your Tom-Tom. If you’re in the UK, why not pop outside and check if there are any Northern Lights (or Aurora Borealis) playfully dancing about in the sky.