NASA officials said a massive X-Class solar flare on March 29th was the best-observed in history. Four spacecraft and one ground-based observatory managed to record the eruption as it happened in late March.
Here’s a NASA video of the March solar flare and it includes several views of the flare as it happens. The video showcases how the sun looks through a variety of spacecraft.
Some of the spacecraft observe the whole sun all the time, but three of the observatories had coordinated in advance to focus on a specific active region of the sun,” Jonathan Cirtain, project scientist for Hinode at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., said in a statement.
Cirtain also said a bit of luck was involved as it can take at least a day “to program in observation time and the target.”
All of these different observations will help scientists get a better handle on what causes solar flares. It could also give some insights on when they might occur in the future. Useful information since solar flares can cause radio blackouts and disrupt military communications.
Solar flares can even knock power out. A solar flare impacted parts of Canada back in March 1989 and knocked power out for 9 hours.
Beautiful aurora displays also occur following solar flares. The Carrington Event of 1859 produced aurora displays as far south as the Caribbean. The solar storm was so powerful it caused severe disruptions in the global telegraph communications systems and even shocked some telegraph operators.