Thursday, February 14, 2008

Eye on the Sky: Weather in Spaaaaaaaaaaace!

by Katie O'Brien, Email Address: kobrien@wsaw.com

"Right now, activity on the sun is very quiet, but that will soon be changing."

Weather is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as “the state of the atmosphere at a given time and place, with respect to variables such as temperature, moisture, wind velocity, and barometric pressure.”
Similarly, the term “space weather” is used to describe the state of the environment in space.
But space looks so empty, what kind of weather could possibly be going on?
In space, the sun puts out something called the solar wind; a continuous stream of particles that flows out from the sun.
During what are called solar flares and coronal mass ejections, highly energized particles are shot out from the sun into the solar wind.
Such changes in the solar wind cause changes in Earth's magnetic field.
These are called geomagnetic storms.

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