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space weather

Down to Earth With: Solar physicist Thomas Berger

Growing up in California during the Space Race, Thomas Berger was fascinated with aeronautics and aviation, so when he arrived at the University of California at Berkeley, physics seemed like the natural choice. After graduating with a degree in engineering physics, Berger took a job with Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank. But he soon decided it was not for him and returned to graduate school at Stanford, where he discovered a new passion: solar physics.

09 May 2016

Comment: Weathering a perfect storm from space

Severe space-weather events have happened in the past, and they’ll happen again in the future. Will we be prepared?


15 Feb 2016

Comment: Who should be worried about space weather

If a severe solar storm were headed toward Earth, should you worry? And to whom should you turn for reliable information?
25 Jul 2015

Amateur radio users help scientists study space weather

F5VIH. KM3T. PY1NB. These strings of letters and numbers aren’t license plate numbers but call signs. They belong to a handful of Ham radio operators, just three of the more than 2 million amateur enthusiasts whose chatter fills the global airwaves day and night. Now, research suggests these communications may represent a vast trove of data that could help scientists study and monitor space weather.
03 Jul 2015

The long road to understanding our star

The earliest written records of sunspots date back to 165 B.C. in China, but human understanding of the sun didn’t begin making leaps forward until the early 1600s, shortly after the invention of the telescope. That’s when Galileo Galilei, Thomas Harriot and others began drawing sunspots in detail and tracking how they moved and changed.

17 Dec 2012

Spot-free sun: Is that normal?

For the past few years, astronomers and scientists have been looking up at a sun that is, more often than not, rather blank. Almost too blank. That is, the sun has been relatively free of the dark patches, called “sunspots,” that appear within 30 degrees of the sun’s equator and travel across the surface. Although low sunspot counts are normal in a typical sunspot cycle, this period has gone on longer than usual, scientists noted at an international solar conference on “Solar Variability, Earth’s Climate and the Space Environment” held in early June at Montana State University in Bozeman.

28 Aug 2008