September 4th, 2012
02:21 PM ET

Up in the sky: 'Solar whip,' Northern Lights

Space geeks are agog over the above video, shot by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, depicting a beautiful whip-like solar filament stretching across the surface of the sun.

The video, which shows solar activity from August 6 to 8, shows a dark red filament that's about half a million miles long.

Unstable magnetic forces cause these filaments, which are cooler clouds of solar material, to be tethered above the sun's surface, according to NASA.

A small cloud of radiation associated with the "solar whip" did reach the Earth. A minor geomagnetic storm and a minor solar radiation storm brought the Northern Lights to parts of North America over the weekend.

Both storms have ended, according to the National Weather Service's Space Weather Prediction Center.

CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano says the Northern Lights may be visible tonight, too, because a strong solar flare is about to happen as Sunspot AR1564 continues to grow and could cause the formation of an M-class flare, a solar euruption of medium strength.

NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of M-flares during the next 24 hours. Those flares will be visible because the active region is turning toward Earth.

Post by:
Filed under: In Space • the Sun
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Rolando Palczewski

    Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions, or in the distribution of weather around the average conditions (i.e., more or fewer extreme weather events). Climate change is caused by factors that include oceanic processes (such as oceanic circulation), biotic processes, variations in solar radiation received by Earth, plate tectonics and volcanic eruptions, and human-induced alterations of the natural world.'

    Take a peek at our very own website as well

    April 29, 2013 at 7:44 am |
  2. mdmann

    Um....I didn't say they didn't. Another problem with "lay persons" is that they apparently can't read very well and/or their logical reasoning/deductive skills aren't highly evolved.

    I said those people can't make sense of things UNLESS it contains one of the aspects I mentioned. I didn't say ONLY those people can make sense of things that contain one of the aspects I mentioned. There is a big difference between the two statements.

    You fail.

    September 5, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  3. jess

    Some people enjoy this stuff. Heck I like to learn new things. I find it pathetic that people just want to post to put people down. Quite a bit of boring people out there. They have nothing to do but troll.

    September 5, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  4. anahata

    Amazing video. Commentary = yawn.

    September 5, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • mdmann

      Thanks for adding your commentary to the "yawn" factor!

      September 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  5. Cmorcat

    We're here again today. Time to put down the Kool-aid cups.

    September 5, 2012 at 8:24 am |
  6. Keel Hauler

    You'd care if this flare or another produced a solar storm powerful enough to disprupt your precious cellphone service. The same people who denounce space-enthusiasts as "nerds" are the ones who can't get their stupid faces out of their electronic devices long enough to gulp for air. Who then are the "nerds"?

    September 5, 2012 at 8:17 am |
  7. Martimar

    I always love it when authors refer to subject matter experts/enthusiasts/etc as geeks or nerds. Nothing like using a term, that while used to describe oneself is fine, is slightly derogatory when directed at somebody else.

    It pretty much identifies the person stating it as an idiot for me. At that point in the article, I can't read it without envisioning Orge shouting "NERDS!!!!"

    September 5, 2012 at 3:12 am |
  8. jim

    Yeah the video was about as exciting as watching paint dry. No wonder lay people get down on the scientists. Problem is NASA has a PR department that looks like it is run by, well, a bunch of nerdy scientists.

    September 5, 2012 at 1:54 am |
    • mdmann

      The video was boring FOR YOU. You have no idea what kind of effect it might have on someone else. There might be a child watching that video who is utterly fascinated by it. And perhaps that child is a "nerd," but he or she will likely be doing far more stuff before they are 20 than your Neanderthal progeny will do in their entire lifetime.

      What is it that you expect NASA to do...CGI some alien space battle over the imagery?

      Jesus, people are so stupid!

      September 5, 2012 at 3:14 am |
    • matt

      Turn in your Geek Card. We need to cut off a corner.

      September 5, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • AceGirlshusband

      I thought it was rather beautiful, actually.

      September 5, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  9. They Always Know More

    This is HAARP testing more weapons, no worries...

    September 5, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  10. GtownDan

    Not a very exciting video to watch from the lay-persons point of view. Probably a cool thing if you are an astrophysicist, or similar type. It would be way cooler if there was more aurora happening.

    September 5, 2012 at 12:01 am |
  11. D_BOY

    u guys r more entertaning then wat i read( gets popcorn the movies good funny too)

    September 4, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  12. Alicia

    Hahahhaa at a lot of you going off on each other.... you guys are more entertaining that the article.

    September 4, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  13. Alicia

    I know!, lets send a rover to the sun. Maybe theres water there! hot pools, how cool!

    September 4, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  14. Yea Right

    And why does it always erupt toward the earth? Why not away from earth?

    September 4, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      it does. It erupts in all directions frequently.

      September 4, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • mdmann

      A friend of mine and I are old are you? Are you still in elementary school, out of school altogether, or somewhere in between?

      September 4, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  15. Yea Right

    I starting to believe that the Mians were right. Too many things are happening as we get closer to 2012. Thousands of fishes dying, floods, volcanoes that's been sleep for decades, 4-6 tornados all happening at the same time, tusomies, glaciers melting, financial meltdown, solar flares after solar flare. I mean, come on. Everything is going according to the prophecy.

    September 4, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • jp


      September 4, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
      • mdmann

        You aren't afraid of the tusomies?

        I'm afraid that one can't be blamed on not being able to spell. There's a deeper pathology at work on that one.

        September 4, 2012 at 9:59 pm |
      • Just me

        No, he means Ethel and Joe Mian, Famous mediums from Nantucket...

        September 5, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • Philboyd Studge

      first of all, do your research on the mayans. they never said the world was going to end in 2012. this has been hype and there is no scientific evidence or historical evidence to back up this farce. and 4-6 tornadoes happening at the same time? are you serious. do a little more research and look up the super outbreak of 1974. you and countless other sheep believe this non-sense and movies like 2012 and the stupid shows on the history channel make a killing. i guess we are just a country full of sheep being screwed by the swine

      September 4, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
    • Eric

      Tusomies!!!!!!!!! I love it!

      September 4, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • glsgareth

      Prophecy? What prophecy? Try not to spend your days and nights watching cheesy Youtube videos with losers and wannabe Spielbergs making crazy for ten minutes. The Maya didn't say anything about 2012. Their calendar doesn't end. TV rots your brain.

      September 5, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • spacedout

      Actually...I think the media is just better at covering this. Has the Sun always been active like this? Lets say 1912. No way would news reporters would have been able to cover this back in the day. Technology is better which means coverage is better.

      September 5, 2012 at 12:27 am |
      • SunZoid

        Media coverage is better, and scientific coverage is better. Solar Dynamics Observatory was launched in 2010, and the STEREO mission only started seeing the full "far side" of the Sun in 2011. It's a new era of 24/7 360-degree coverage.

        September 5, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  16. Richard

    Most of the replies remind me of why America is falling further and further behind in the sciences. Now go watch your reality shows, you mental midgets.

    September 4, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Fear

      I fear one thing and that's extremely big spiders

      September 4, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Steve

      The sad part is that you are correct (and I am an American)...smh.

      September 4, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • mdmann

      How can you promote science in a country where elected officials believe the reproductive system of a woman automatically shuts down when she is raped so she can't get pregnant? And other people BELIEVE it?

      We were doomed LONG ago. It's just that it has become much more obvious as these people don't have any shame anymore. They don't really care if anyone thinks they are stupid. I believe they actually like it.

      September 4, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
      • ArchieDeBunker

        How can you promote science in a world where supposed "scientists" use the threat of "Man-caused Global Warming" to try and extort money out of developed countries? Oh, and by the way, global warming cycles match up with solar flare activity – not with CO2 concentration. Increases in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere do not CAUSE global warming – they are, and always have been, a RESULT of global warming. The Climate Change "scientists" refuse to even debate the issues, have stonewalled attempts to get them to be real scientists and examine ALL the possible causes of global warming, and, in short, don't even come close to following the scientific method. Why? Because every one of them stands to gain (more grants, more stipends, etc.) monetarily by playing on the fears and ignorance of the general public.

        September 4, 2012 at 11:43 pm |
      • mdmann

        Tell me something, meathead (you are responsible for the "All In The Family" reference)...who do you think stands to gain MORE financially:

        1) Scientists creating a global climate change hoax
        2) Oil companies denying that fossil fuel burning has had a measurable and dangerous impact upon global climate

        Very simple question, and if you are even HALF as smart as you fancy yourself to be, the answer should be painfully obvious.

        If you guessed the former, you are absolutely WRONG. And this would be why you should not be commenting on matters of science you don't understand. You don't even understand the amount of money associated with science funding compared to what is involved with the oil industry.

        How many multimillionaire scientists are you aware of?

        The only rational thing you state in your diatribe is the idea of CO2 levels increasing as a result of climate change. There is some element of truth to that, as there is a feedback mechanism at work. But you are incorrect that humans have not contributed significantly to increase. They may not have caused it alone, as there ARE natural processes which can do the same. But the issue is whether or not manmade causes are ACCELERATING the process. People like you make the arrogant mistake of thinking that the Earth's natural mechanisms for dealing with such fluctuations can handle large changes in a way that is benign to our existence. Make no mistake that Earth will survive whatever happens. We, most likely, would not.

        September 5, 2012 at 12:58 am |
      • mdmann

        Oh, by the way, I notice that you didn't touch the "magic female reproduction shutdown" issue.

        I would wonder why, but my best guess is that you believe such nonsense.

        I recall that Archie Bunker believed that if he got a blood transfusion from a black person, he'd become black. Do you believe that, too?

        September 5, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • Seyedibar

      What do you expect when 3/4 of the nation believes in talking snakes, burning bushes, and sorcerors who come back from the dead.

      September 4, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
      • Steve

        Einstein believed in burning bushes as well, and I'm pretty sure his level of intellect wasn't influenced by it...

        September 4, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
      • mdmann

        So, you're saying these dolts are as intelligent as Einstein?


        September 5, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • jp

      EXACTLY!! WHAT'S A 'TUSOMIE'????!!:):)

      September 4, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
    • Paul

      LOL remminds me of this movie....Idiocracy (2006)

      Private Joe Bauers, the definition of "average American", is selected by the Pentagon to be the guinea pig for a top-secret hibernation program. Forgotten, he awakes 500 years in the future. He discovers a society so incredibly dumbed-down that he's easily the most intelligent person alive.

      September 5, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  17. razorwolf

    lets hope theres not another on 12/21/12

    September 4, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Sunzoid

      There probably will be one on 12/21/12, though it may not be Earth-directed. It's still near solar maximum and the Sun averages several eruptions a day. The ones that make the news are usually the ones that have the most picturesque videos – most Earth-directed eruptions don't make it into the news.

      September 4, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
  18. eroteme

    If it be true the sun rotates does it rotate clockwise or couner-clockwise? from our view, that is. Are we sure the earth rotates? Clockwise or counter-clockwise? Do we know for a fact the earth is not flat? It looks pretty flat out here in Kansas.

    September 4, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • mdmann

      I'm really hoping your questions are just being snarky, though that wouldn't be much better than the alternative.

      Can you see all the way to New York City from Kansas?

      Do you believe the pictures of Earth from space are fake?

      September 4, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
      • eroteme

        I had a clever response but I now forget what it was.

        September 4, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • zeyn2010

      LOL – thanks for the laugh! Too funny!

      September 4, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  19. MrMagoo

    I just got in touch with the alien mother hovering above. No need to panic ppl, the planet is in no immediate threat of invasion. fact, ET says hi and he will phone home real soon

    September 4, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  20. DarrelDIssa

    Darrel, is that you moderating?

    September 4, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  21. Imafkndrgn

    I was once a NASA researcher... then I took an arrow to the knee.

    September 4, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  22. JoJo

    I didn't know the Sun rotated around the earth: "Those flares will be visible because the active region is turning toward Earth." I thought the sun stood still relative to the earth and we rotated around the sun.

    September 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Mrawr

      Let's try to think before we speak next time? The Sun itself rotates, just like the Earth does. Any 3rd-4th grader knows this, the adults should as well. So yes, the statement that you are ignorant to and commenting on, is indeed correct.

      September 4, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Chris

      Actually, the sun spins on its own axis, much like the Earth spins on its axis to give us days and nights. It takes the sun about 4 weeks to complete a spin around its axis.

      September 4, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Thinker

      "the active region is turning toward the earth". Not rotating around the Earth. The author was correct in this case.

      September 4, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Seyedibar

      everything is moving in space

      September 4, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • rjlanning

      You are confusing the word "rotating" with the word "revolving". Both the sun and the earth "rotate." In addition, the earth "revolves" around the Sun. The Sun, in turn, "revolves" around the galactic center of the Milky Way.

      September 4, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • GodofLunaticsCreation

      But the Sun's rotation is different from the Earth's because it rotates in sections.

      September 5, 2012 at 1:47 am |
  23. different chris

    Come on NASA, go forward! Move ahead! Try to detect it. It's not too late!

    September 4, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • wowforreeel


      September 4, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  24. Azhar

    The Sun farted. 🙂

    September 4, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  25. pigmore

    The Mayans were right.

    September 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  26. Hmm....

    Did they mean the northern parts of the lower 48 states or North America, the continent?

    September 4, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • huh?

      North America is not a continent

      September 4, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
      • lol

        I guess they don't teach geography in school anymore. North America is most definitely a continent. LOL!

        September 4, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
      • Educator

        @ Huh? Seriously?! FYI- North America IS a continent. So is South America. They are not the same continent.

        September 4, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
      • airphotodave

        Actually, North America is a continent.

        September 4, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
      • different chris

        Hey guys I think North America might be a continent. I heard it somewhere.

        September 4, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
      • what?

        really? REALLY?

        September 4, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
      • 5_6_model

        Depends on the 5 or 6 continent model. Most assume a 6 continent model but there IS/WAS a 5 continent model.......Olympics 5 rings and such....

        September 4, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
      • mdmann

        You did not just say that.

        Seriously? There are people on this planet (other than young kids or developmentally challenged adults) who don't know how many continents there are?

        September 4, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
      • Stevesie

        I had always heard there were 7 continents – if you include Atlantis of course.

        September 4, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
      • Troy

        North America IS a continent...that's how our hotels came up with continental breakfasts....duh!

        September 5, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Dennis

      Auroral displays are not normally seen below the northern band of the lower 48 states of the North American continent.They are normally viewed in the arctic regions of the globe and on occsasion in the Antarctic regions.This is more than likely what they meant to say.Hope this clarifies things a bit better for you.

      September 4, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
      • MOCaseA

        Auroras occur equally in the northern and southern regions of the planet. It is rare that they occur at the same time, but throughout the year they occur equally.

        And there is a site that will tell you where the Aurora will be visible. Google it.

        September 5, 2012 at 1:02 am |
  27. Pazuzu

    Say my name!

    September 4, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  28. Ghandalf

    Balrog. You shall not pass!!!!

    September 4, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  29. scottaustintexas

    I own a Whippet.

    September 4, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  30. Devo

    Whip it. Whip it good.

    September 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
  31. Cozi

    I was watching the flares in the right corner the entire time.

    September 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • CS

      Me too. The whip was no big deal.

      September 4, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  32. CalDude


    September 4, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  33. Matt

    Don't ever forget ~ The number one cause of death is life.

    September 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • mojo

      Very nice. I think I'll have to use that sometime

      September 4, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • what?

      wrong, the #1 cause of death is, death.

      September 4, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
      • Cmorcat

        Lack of a pulse is the leading cause of death in all species on this planet. No pulse = no O to the cells = eviction of the soul.

        September 5, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • eric

      actually, dying is the number one cause of death.

      September 4, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • mdmann

      EPIC fail on that attempt at being witty.

      September 4, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  34. Hadenuffyet

    there goes my wifi...

    September 4, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  35. ramjamthankyoumam

    thx universe.

    September 4, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  36. snowboarder

    interesting. our universe is a pretty fantastical place.

    September 4, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  37. Really???

    So what does this mean for us??? Are there going to be interruptions in the grid? Do we need to worry?

    September 4, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • David F Pawlowski

      No worries. Join NOAA space weather e-mail warning list if you are concerned.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Danny

      You better put on your tin-foil hat just to be safe.

      September 4, 2012 at 4:32 pm |


      September 4, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Dennis

      Not likely to cause problems in the grid with this type and magnitude of geomagnetic storm and coronal mass ejection(CME) that usually follows.This will certainly have a disruptive effect on communication systems and possibly satellite and GPS navigation units.Go back to the last sentence where it indicates there is a 40% chance of an M-class type of storm within the next 24 hours.Current Solar Terrestrial Data shows a Solar Flux Index of 137 with a total of 156 visible sunspots,an A Index of 13(down from 32 earlier this morning),and a K Index of 2.This is an indication that this geomagnetic storm is passing quite quickly through Earth's atmosphere.

      September 4, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • no worries? lmao

      no worries? NOAA just bought 175 thousand rounds of hollow point ammo, I guess they are not worried either eh?

      September 4, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  38. lol

    > Show interest in things beyond Earth.
    > Call them Space Geeks.

    September 4, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • le redditor

      cool me me arrows bro

      September 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
    • lol

      It's called greentext, newfriend Americlap.

      September 4, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
  39. bam


    September 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm |


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