Transcript of "Blackout: The Sun-Earth Connection", Part 2

Solar storms can effect our lives in ways that you may not expect. Take for example, an event that occurred on March 14th, 1989. At 2:45am, power was cut off to 6 million people living in eastern Canada for 9 hours. This black out caused millions of dollars of damage to power line systems and electrical equipment.

And just think of the chaos. Traffic lights didn.t work causing wide spread traffic jams, people couldn.t watch TV, play video games, or use computers. And think about those who had to endure more serious and even life threatening problems trapped in elevators...or surgery rooms So what happened?

We know that Hurricanes can tear up homes and power lines. And many of us have experienced thunderstorms where lighting has knocked out power to our home. The cause of THIS black out lies some 150 million kilometers from Earth. Yes.the sun. This black out was caused by an explosive event on the sun called a coronal mass ejection. This particular coronal mass ejection blasted billions of tons of electrically charged particles directly at Earth inducing huge electrical currents. This electrical activity can damage our power distribution systems.

For instance, we know the sun has an eleven-year cycle. The number of storms on the sun increase and decrease during this cycle. At what scientists call Solar Minimum, the sun is relatively quiet. There are few storms, and few sunspots. As the sun approaches it.s active peak, called the Solar Maximum, solar activity increases. At Solar Maximum, there are more sunspots, more storms, and more flares. It.s here, at Solar Maximum that our chances of being hit by a coronal mass ejection increase dramatically. The most recent solar maximum occurred in the year 2000.