1. Solar flares and coronal mass ejections can cause a disturbance in
the Earth’s magnetic field (magnetosphere), called a geomagnetic
2. Solar flares can sometimes heat the solar atmosphere to
temperatures of 50 million C – far hotter that the sun’s core!
3. The fastest coronal mass ejection was recorded on 4th August
1972 and travelled from the sun to earth in 14.6 hours – a speed of
nearly 10 million kilometers per hour!
4. On 8th April 1947, the largest sunspot in modern history reached its
maximum size of over 330 times Earth’s area.
5. The first solar flare recorded occurred on 2nd September 1859 and
was sighted by two astronomers who happened to be looking at the
sun at exactly the right time!
6. Between 10-12th May 1999, the solar wind nearly vanished,
causing Earth’s magnetosphere to expand in volume by over 100
7. A typical CME can be millions of kilometers in size, but have the
mass of only a small mountain!
8. The most powerful aurora can generate over 1 trillion watts of
9. On 13th March 1989 a geomagnetic storm caused a blackout in
Quebec, Canada. It resulted in a £4 billion loss to the Canadian
10. During intense solar flares, astronauts see bright flashing streaks
of light as a result of high-energy particles zipping through their
11. The largest, single, challenge for astronauts travelling to Mars will
be to overcome exposure to solar storms and radiation.
12. Around £1 billion in satellite technology was damaged or
destroyed during the last sunspot cycle.
13. The 4th August 1972 flare (in between Apollo missions 16 and 17)
solar was so powerful that, by some estimates, a space-suited
astronaut would have received a lethal dose of radiation.
14. Earth’s climate was seriously chilled during the Maunder
Minimum (1645-1715) when no sunspots were observed. People iceskated
on the Thames in summer!
15. During a single second, the sun converts 4 million tons of matter
into pure energy.
16. The core of the sun is nearly as dense as lead, and has a
temperature of 15 million C.
17. During a severe solar storm, Earth loses about 100 tons of its
atmosphere into space.
18. Toy ‘rare-earth’ magnets can be 5 times stronger that a sunspot