Goodbye, Electronics

Clouds, as usual! Blocking my view of the June 23rd geomagnetic storm that sent northern lights dancing across the skies as far south as Pennsylvania and Virginia. It was a spectacular event for folks under clear skies, yet hardly compared to the greatest solar storm to intercept Earth on record, the Carrington event of 1859.

Before dawn on September 2nd, 1859, northern aurora graced the skies as far south as Cuba and Sub-Saharan Africa. The lights were brighter than a full moon, and telegraph systems throughout the northern hemisphere failed, some shocking their operators. This storm showed for the first time that the auroral phenomena were linked to electricity. In fact, the current produced by this storm was so strong that some telegraph operators were able to continue their conversations even after their power had been switched off.


Frank Olsen, via Wikimedia Commons

The telegraph was one of our first electronic communication devices. There were no tablets, no laptops, no satellites and no internet in 1859. What if a solar storm of equal proportion to the Carrington event hit Earth in the 21st century, plunging our digital screens into darkness and sending the lights dancing over Cuba again?


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