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ASHKA'S CONNECTION  - “LIVING AND NOT LEARNING FROM LIFE’S LESSONS IS JUST EXISTING!"

Somewhere Over the Rainbow
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"Greetings, my spiritual name is Ashka, revealed to me by my wonderful sage, "LaSoon."  My Earth name is Cynthia Orobono, and I have lived in the Lehigh Valley for over twenty-five years. Since adolescence I have been seeking my spiritual truth!  Now that I have connected with my sacred-self LaSoon, I crave an even deeper understanding as to why we are here on Earth. Also, learning to survive on this unique planet. I have been a spiritual adviser at a spiritual shop in Allentown, PA for several years. LaSoon and I are helping others find their way traversing life's obstacles with this wonderful wisdom I have acquired. Also, experiencing a life lesson of surviving breast cancer (stage 3, borderline 4) and gaining knowledge and wisdom from this event!  Life can be difficult as well as joyous. We are here to help you find your balance."
Namaste,
Ashka
            


2014 - THE UPCOMING AWAKENINGS 

THE YULE WILL  BRING IN A YEAR OF UNDERSTANDING AND REBIRTH. THIS IS THE TIME TO USE THE DIVERSE COSMIC ENERGIES THAT ABOUND AROUND
OUR BEINGS.  ALSO, TO CREATE
HEAVEN ON EARTH WITH THESE NEW FOUND ENERGIES. 

WITH A NEW YEAR OF THESE WONDERFUL COSMIC GIFTS, THE EARTH ENERGY WILL NOT BE LEFT OUT.  A  GIFT OF A NEW SPIRITUAL SHOP IS PLACED BEFORE YOU,  PLEASE STOP IN AND CHECK OUT "MYSTICKAL MOON,"    1727 LIBERTY STREET, ALLENTOWN, PA.
610 821 1108 in January 2014.

NEW CLASSES, A VARIETY OF STOCK FOR THE DIFFERENT DISCIPLINES PRACTICED, AND SO MUCH MORE!  MYSTICAL MOON IS A CULMINATION OR A BLENDING OF OLD AND NEW.  DO NOT FORGET TO GIVE YOURSELF A GIFT TO BRING IN 2014. STOP IN AND  RE-ENERGIZE WITH THE AMAZING ENERGY FROM THIS NEW SHOP!

Namaste,


ASHKA & LASOON





MYSTICKAL MOON
1727 LIBERTY  ST
ALLENTOWN, PA 18104
610 821 1108


TUESDAY – FRIDAY,   11:00AM-5:00pm
SATURDAY, 10:00AM-4:00AM
 

 THE UPCOMING AWAKENINGS

     A  GIFT OF A NEW SPIRITUAL SHOP IS PLACED BEFORE YOU, PLEASE STOP IN AND CHECK OUT "MYSTICKAL MOON."   
     
     NEW CLASSES, A VARIETY OF STOCK FOR THE DIFFERENT DISCIPLINES PRACTICED, AND SO MUCH MORE!  MYSTICAL MOON IS A CULMINATION OR A BLENDING OF OLD AND NEW.  YOU WILL FIND THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:

·        MOMMA DONNA’S MAGICAL CANDLES
·        MOMMA DONNA’S MOJO BAGS
·        ELEMENTAL CANDLES
·        SEVERAL DIFFERENT READERS TO CHOOSE FROM
·        TAROT READINGS/ENERGY READINGS
·        SPIRITUAL ADVICE
·        AND MUCH MORE…


      “DO NOT FORGET TO GIVE YOURSELF A GIFT TO BRING IN 2014.  STOP IN AND RE-ENERGIZE WITH THE AMAZING ENERGY FROM THIS NEW SHOP!”









ANNOUNCEMENTS
                    2014


ASHKA & LASOON WILL BE VOLUNTEERING AT 

MYSTICKAL MOON 
1727 LIBERTY STREET
NORTHAMPTON, PA 
610 821 1108

        
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN ARRANGING AN APPOINTMENT TO REVIEW YOUR UPCOMING YEAR OR SPIRITUAL ADVICE, PLEASE CONTACT LASOON & ASHKA THROUGH THE "CONTACT PAGE" ON THIS WEBSITE!



  IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS REGARDING ANY INFORMATION ON THIS WEBSITE, PLEASE CONTACT ASHKA OR LASOON THROUGH THE CONTACT PAGE!





REMINDER:

 
            Everyone has challenges in their life, but sometimes things happen that shake us to our core.  We physically internalize the event not sure if we want to live or die.  Our emotional world is crushed, all we want to do is cry and hide.  Intellectually, knowing that if we are around anyone, they can see through us, and see our pain.
This my dear friends is a cosmic lesson! 
           We must meet quite a few of these tests within our lifetime.  But, please know that there is help from our spiritual side.  All we have to do is ask and the signs will be in front of us to
assist us. Just open your eyes...

Ashka





  " One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity."

                    Albert Schweitzer




*REFER TO THE COSMIC GUIDANCE PAGE FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON THIS TOPIC....









"2014, A YEAR OF UNDERSTANDING AND REBIRTH!"

LaSoon






*  IT IS TIME TO START FOLLOWING OUR NEW PATH TO A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF OUR BEING AND TO REDIRECT OUR MINDSET.  OUR FIRST STEP IS UNDERSTAND THAT AS LONG AS WE ARE ON EARTH WE WILL FACE EARTHLY CHALLENGES!  BUT, WE DO HAVE THE ABILITY TO CREATE HEAVEN ON EARTH.
 




"2013, a year of renewed peace and self-fulfillment!"

LaSoon


 
         *Self-fulfillment is a means to convert our intent (manifest) into reality.  Also, to develop the full potentialities of the self (I am), which helps us touch the cosmic aspect of our beings.   As we strengthen the connection to this cosmic energy, your vibration will increase.  Thus, revealing the wonderful abilities that have always been around us!   Now, this is the moment to define and refine these capabilities...

May your true light guide you,
 

Ashka



 
 
 
.Visit "LaSoon's Wisdom" -  Information on:

  • Changes "affecting you"
  • Mirroring - "How to"
  • Tears of Anguish - "Dealing with emotional pain"






Awakening to New Energy's
As we (Earth & Us) raise our vibration, wonderful will be revealed and given.  It is for the awakened to find and draw on, bringing in this "new" wonderful energy.  An example of this process are all the semi-precious stones and crystals that are newly discovered.  To help this process along, I will be listing these that LaSoon has led me to:
 
Semi-Precious Stones & Crystals
Lemurian Jade:   Alignment to Earth
Lemurian Jade contains Jade, Quartz, Pyrite and other , which together form two distinct coloured types.  This greyish/green type is known as Shadow Lemurian Jade and the black type Midnight Lemurian Jade. 
The frequency of Lemurian Jade connects to the base and heart centre to the at the heart of Mother Earth allowing one to feel the abundance and joy that can be found in one's world.  Its energy helps one to communicate with Nature's Spirits and can aid with Earth healing. 
Associated - Base/Root, Heart
Physical Ailments - Heart - Physical
-
- Immune Systems
Emotional Issue - Abuse
Spiritual Connections - Abundance & Prosperity
-Connection to Natures Spirits & Devas
- Divine Feminine
 
Starbrary Quartz Crystals

     Starbrary crystals are a rare and completely natural type of Quartz formation, which have been and programmed with ancient and detailed information by people from distant star systems. This is the main difference between a Starbrary and a Lemurian Seed Crystal; Starbrarys having been encoded remotely by that existed outside of our own , whilst Lemurian crystals were embedded with information by people who inhabited our planet; ‘seeding’ or planting them in a sand bed in Brazil for us to discover some 10,000 years after they left.
The Starbrary Mission
The language of the Starbrary is similar to that of Lemurian Seed Crystals, but more complex due to the incredible amount of information each one contains. This information is considered crucial to the growth and survival of the human and the the planet as a whole. They are also thought to contain information required to help the Earth at a time of extreme global need or crisis. It follows, therefore, that these amazing and significant crystals are beginning to become available in various parts of the world, so that their reach to Lightworkers will be on a global scale.
Identifying a Starbrary
Starbrary crystals can be identified by the presence of glyph like markings, etchings, geometric symbols and patterns along their shafts and occasionally on the actual main face of the crystal. Some also carry doorways (portals) or keys. Whilst other natural, unpolished Quartz crystals may carry similar markings, the energy and detail of a Starbrary is undeniably completely different.
Lightning Strike Starbrary Crystals
Some Starbrarys may also be Lightning Strike crystals; a very rare formation in itself (not to be confused with Fulgarite*). ‘Lightning Strike Starbrary’ crystals have had their information ‘downloaded’ into them using lightning as a conduit, and, therefore, they benefit from having the additional properties of a Lightning Strike specimen. These crystals bear a jagged scar – usually on their shaft - caused by the strike. The intensity of the bolt often blew the tip off of these crystals in the process, but this does not detract from the energies or purpose. It is said that the travellers who imparted their knowledge into these crystals did so during electrical storms over Brazil many, many thousands of years ago; choosing crystals that were lying exposed (or perhaps placed) on the surface. Lightning Strike Starbrarys are not reserved to any one particular, named group of Starbrary (see names below), they may be found on any of them. Furthermore, Lightning Strike crystals are not always Starbrarys.
*Fulgarite is often sold as Lightning Quartz or Lightning Glass. Fulgarite is a variety of Lechatelierite and is a fragile formation of silica-rich glass, created when sand or base rock is hit by lightning, fusing it into unusual shapes. It is usually of rough, tubular appearance. The hollow tubular part is the point where the lightning struck, fusing the sand around it.
Starbrary Names and Groups
Most Starbrarys are labeled simply as ‘Starbrary Quartz’ or ‘Lightning Strike Starbrary Quartz’ and not named after their particular star system. Very occasionally, however, they will be specifically named if they are a readily identifiable formation; as with an Andromeda DT,ET (Double Terminated, Extraterrestrial). There are six different groups of people who have are believed to have left such information embedded in these crystals.
- Cassiopeia
Some of the most sought after are those containing the maps, legends and history of the people of the Cassiopeia star system. These particular crystals can be recognized by their flowing lines and symbols along their shaft. They often (but not always) have key markings. These may be either portals or doorways to other dimensions or can be information gateways; the means by which we can access their data. Each crystal has various ways of being held which facilitates the release of information contained within; each position (and ‘key’ if one is present) revealing a different layer of information.
- Pleiades
The next type, from the Pleidean System, are recognized by the geometric symbols along their sides - circles, squares, triangles (not to be confused with Record Keepers) and so on and they often have very pronounced keys. Together with the Cassiopeian type described above, these two have the strongest energetic links with the people of both Atlantis and Lemuria.
- Ursa Minor
Then we have a type linked to a system within Ursa Minor. They bear a series of triangles, dots and dashes – a sort of intergalactic Morse code – along their sides. They are often called Cosmic Crystals due to the markings which sometimes resemble meteor showers. To access the information contained within this particular type of crystal you have to ‘read’ the dots and dashes. The code contained within these crystals was one generally used throughout the Atlantean civilization.
- Leo
Next we have an encoded crystal from the people of the Leo star system. It is a more linear pattern but does share some similarities with the first two – from Cassiopeia and Pleiades. The information contained within this type is more factual then philosophical or spiritual, giving names, dates, historical events and other more routine details like weather information.
- Orion
Then come the Titanium included Quartz Starbrarys, with their deep ridges and furrows which create very definite glyphs on the faces of the crystal, rather than along the sides or shaft. This is the only Starbrary which bears markings on the face. This wondrous crystal is connected with the people of the Orion system. Of all the Starbrarys, this one needs a ‘companion crystal’. This ‘companion’ may be a crystal of any type (not necessarily Quartz) and is more often than not, quite an unremarkable stone. The companion crystals sit in wait for a Starbrary to come into their energy field, which activates their abilities. The information contained within an Orion Starbrary is so detailed that the companion crystal is needed to help us to first access this data, assimilating it in to a comprehensible manner. The Orion Starbrarys were of the utmost importance and spiritual value to the Native American Indian people.
- Andromeda
Then we have a crystal containing knowledge from the people of the Andromeda star system. These differ from all the others in that they are (nearly) always double terminated (DT) and more often than not extraterrestrial (ET) formation crystals. They too often have keys, but these are usually tiny. The crucial distinguishing thing which identifies this type from the others is that the sides appear to be layered, and they have no central face termination. It is as though the main termination has been covered by the ET formation or growth. Extraterrestrial crystals can be identified as being similar to self-healed formations, but with far larger and better defined crystals, which vaguely resemble the flames coming out of the tail of a space shuttle! The Andromeda crystals have a strong energetic connection with both those from the Cassiopeian and Pleiadian people, giving rise to speculative belief that there may well have been contact and communication between people from the different star systems.
Master Starbrarys
Finally, there are those referred to as Master Starbrarys; crystals which contain a selection if not all of the above features. The information in these exceptional crystals can be accessed either with or without a companion stone. These are the rarest and most powerful of all the Starbrarys.
The Future
These magnificent and wondrous crystals are now working their way to locations across the planet to be with the guardians who will need to work with them in the future. All of the Starbrarys are thought to contain a direct means of communicating with our elders from these far off galaxies, just lying dormant waiting for us to unlock their code. Furthermore, it is believed that when the time is right (as with Lemurian Seed Crystals also), the Starbrarys will experience a simultaneous ‘awakening’, creating a huge web or grid of celestial light which will surround and encompass the whole planet.
Embedded with their ancient and potent knowledge the Starbrarys lie patiently waiting for us to discover and work with them. Only time will tell, but when the people from these star systems feel that we are ready for open contact and have evolved sufficiently from the third dimension of fear, hatred, anger, jealousy and greed, many pieces of the puzzle will start to fall into place and we will receive the answers many spiritual people across the planet have long been searching for. If you find yourself guardian of one of these extraordinary and precious crystals, work with it often, treat it with the utmost respect and learn as much as you can of its secrets and mysteries.

*Information is from a wonderful site on the Internet! 
 
 
Media
 
Movie -  "Cafe`"  with Jennifer Love Hewitt
     A wonderful little movie that gives us insight into our true "Universe."  This film delves into explaining how we are creators of our physical world.  How our lessons and challenges roll down from our spiritual world.  "Highly recommended for content!"

"Joe Somebody" with Tim Allen
This movie gem uses humor to explain the difference between desire versus need!  This is such an important lesson, sometimes with desire we are unsure as to what we truly want!  You will really enjoy the moments of "Joe" finally learning his need over desire!  How Joe finds peace and completeness with him making decisions from a place of need...
 
Poetry
AuBois, il va un oiseau; Son chant vous arrete et vopus fait rougir...

"In the woods there is a bird; his song stops you and makes you blush."
  

  • Jean Nicolas Arthur Rimbaud (20 October 1854 – 10 November 1891) was a French poet. From his poem titled, "Childhood"




Television Series
 
"Awake"  - A show about parallel universes, how we are living in different dimensions at the same time. Very powerful information if you take the time a sift through each episode.
"Life" -  This program on Netflix is about a police detective who is following the philosophy of Zen and how he lives it in his life!  One of the more intriguing aspects is the people around the main character, who without knowing start to emulate him. 
 
*On Netflix "instant stream" only $7.99 a month, they also have a free month membership! 

BOOKS

THE VOYNICH MANUSCRIPT 
     BY GERRY KENNEDY & ROB CHURCHILL

  The unsolved riddle of an extraordinary book which has defied interpretation for centuries.  The manuscript was rediscovered in 1912 and written in an unknown language, or undecipherable code, it contains hundreds of illustrations of weird plants, bizarre cosmological diagrams and, most tantalizing of all inexplicable scenes of naked nymphs bathing in a strange, green liquid.  The manuscript was donated to Yale University.  This book gives the history of the manuscript and a number of illistrations.  
 


 
More information to follow...
 
 
Offering Enlight enment Through:
 

  • Tarot Readings (Energy Readings)


  • Group or Private Classes
  • Spiritual Guidance Session
  • Medium Gallery Functions
  • Spiritual Store (Under Construction!)
  • C.L.U.E.S. - Paranormal Investigation (Clearing, Learning & Understanding Energy Spirits)


Thanks for Visiting Us! 
    
Current Vibrational Events
    
      "Yes dear friends, there are several ways the environment can affect us, in a non-contact way.  It can ripple through our auras and disrupt our harmonics.  We can react from these rhythms through our emotional, physical and mental bodies.  They are referred to as vibrational events, and if we have an understanding of it, it will lessen the impact. 
     The affects of solar and lunar activities have been documented for centuries.  All we need to do is keep track of these events and accept and adjust to their influences for a positive optimum effect. 
     But, a cause that can completely disturb our harmonics is another persons aura. If that person is directing negative thoughts towards you it can have the same influence as the sun and moon.  One simple way to dissipate this energy blast is to ignore it.  Do not return the negativity, just mirror their energy back to the person that is sending it. It is so easy to do when you know you have the power!  Then let them deal with what they have dished out.  It is clearly returned with double the punch for them to contend with. 
     If you would like more information regarding this topic, please send a note through my "Contact Me" page.
 
      "Natura valde simplex est et sibi consona!"
(Nature is exceedingly simple and harmonious with itself.)
Sir Isaac Newton
 

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La Bella Luna & El Sol
 

  
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  • 2014
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  April 8 - Mars at Opposition. The red planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph Mars. A medium-sized telescope will allow you to see some of the dark details on the planet's orange surface. You may even be able to see one or both of the bright white polar ice caps. ·
  April 15 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 07:42 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Pink Moon because it marked the appearance of the moss pink, or wild ground phlox, which is one of the first spring flowers. This moon has also been known as the Sprouting Grass Moon and the Growing Moon.
·  April 15 - Total Lunar Eclipse. A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes completely through the Earth's dark shadow, or umbra. During this type of eclipse, the Moon will gradually get darker and then take on a rusty or blood red color. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of North America, South America, and Australia. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information
  April 22, 23 - Lyrids Meteor Shower. The Lyrids is an average shower, usually producing about 20 meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, which was discovered in 1861. The shower runs annually from April 16-25. It peaks this year on the night of the night of the 22nd and morning of the 23rd. These meteors can sometimes produce bright dust trails that last for several seconds. The second quarter moon will be a slight problem this year, blocking the less bright meteors from view. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Lyra, but can appear anywhere in the sky. ·
  April 29 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 06:14 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere. ·
  April 29 - Annular Solar Eclipse. An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon is too far away from the Earth to completely cover the Sun. This results in a ring of light around the darkened Moon. The Sun's corona is not visible during an annular eclipse. The path of the eclipse will begin off the coast of South Africa and move across Antarctica and into the east coast of Australia. NASA Map and Eclipse Information
  May 5, 6 - Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower. The Eta Aquarids is an above average shower, capable of producing up to 60 meteors per hour at its peak. Most of the activity is seen in the Southern Hemisphere. In the Northern Hemisphere, the rate can reach about 30 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust particles left behind by comet Halley, which has known and observed since ancient times. The shower runs annually from April 19 to May 28. It peaks this year on the night of May 5 and the morning of the May 6. The first quarter moon will set just after midnight leaving fairly dark skies for what should be a good show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Aquarius, but can appear anywhere in the sky. ·
  May 10 - Saturn at Opposition. The ringed planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. This is the best time to view and photograph Saturn and its moons. A medium-sized or larger telescope will allow you to see Saturn's rings and a few of its brightest moons.
·  May 10 - Astronomy Day Part 1. Astronomy Day is an annual event intended to provide a means of interaction between the general public and various astronomy enthusiasts, groups and professionals. The theme of Astronomy Day is "Bringing Astronomy to the People," and on this day astronomy and stargazing clubs and other organizations around the world will plan special events. You can find out about special local events by contacting your local astronomy club or planetarium. You can also find more about Astronomy Day by checking the Web site for theAstronomical League
. ·  May 14 - Full Moon. The Moon will be directly opposite the Earth from the Sun and will be fully illuminated as seen from Earth. This phase occurs at 19:16 UTC. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Flower Moon because this was the time of year when spring flowers appeared in abundance. This moon has also been known as the Full Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon. ·
  May 24 - Possible Meteor Storm. In the early morning hours of Saturday, May 24, the Earth will pass through the debris field left behind by a small comet known as P/209 LINEAR. Astronomers are predicting that this interaction may result in a brief but intense burst of meteor activity that could range from dozens to hundreds of meteors per hour. Nothing is certain, but many mathematical models are predicting that this could be the most intense meteor shower in more than a decade. ·
  May 28 - New Moon. The Moon will be directly between the Earth and the Sun and will not be visible from Earth. This phase occurs at 18:40 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
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(HD) Nasa Warns Of Super Solar Storm 2012 - 2013 & Andromeda - Doc
NEW Update by NASA - The Surprising Power of a Solar Stormhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDGpfAzCaDkSpace Storm Tracked from Sun to Earth: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=896wj9cxT50music: Andr...
National Geographic Article Published June 2012
Solar Storms

By Timothy Ferris
 
On Thursday, September 1, 1859, a 33-year-old brewer and amateur astronomer named Richard Carrington climbed the stairs to his private observatory near London, opened the dome slit, and as was his habit on a sunny morning, adjusted his telescope to project an 11-inch image of the sun onto a screen. He was tracing sunspots on a piece of paper when, before his eyes, “two patches of intensely bright and white light” suddenly appeared amid one large sunspot group. At the same time the magnetometer needle dangling from a silk thread at London’s Kew Observatory began dancing wildly. Before dawn the next day enormous auroral displays of red, green, and purple illuminated the skies as far south as Hawaii and Panama. Campers in the Rocky Mountains, mistaking the aurora for sunrise, got up and started cooking breakfast.
The flare Carrington had observed heralded a solar superstorm—an enormous electromagnetic outburst that sent billions of tons of charged particles hurtling toward Earth. (Another amateur English astronomer named Richard Hodgson also witnessed the flare.) When the invisible wave collided with the planet’s magnetic field, it caused electrical currents to surge through telegraph lines. The blast knocked out service at several stations, but telegraphers elsewhere found that they could disconnect their batteries and resume operations using the geomagnetic electricity alone. “We are working with the current from the Aurora Borealis alone,” a Boston telegrapher messaged an operator in Portland, Maine. “How do you receive my writing?”
“Much better than with the batteries on,” Portland replied.
Operators of today’s communication systems and power grids would be less sanguine. No solar superstorm as powerful as the 1859 event has occurred since, so it is difficult to calculate what impact a comparable storm might have on today’s more wired world. A hint came with the Quebec blackout of March 13, 1989, when a solar storm roughly a third less powerful than the Carrington event knocked out the power grid serving more than six million customers in less than two minutes’ time. A Carrington-class storm could fry more transformers than the power companies keep stockpiled, leaving millions without light, potable water, sewage treatment, heating, air-conditioning, fuel, telephone service, or perishable food and medications during the months it would take to manufacture and install new transformers. A recent National Academy of Sciences report estimates that such a storm could wreak the economic disruption of 20 Katrina-class hurricanes, costing one to two trillion dollars in the first year alone and taking a decade to recover from.
“We cannot predict what the sun will do more than a few days ahead of time,” laments Karel Schrijver of Lockheed Martin’s Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, California. With a period of maximum solar activity expected to begin this year, space-weather centers are adding staff and hoping for the best. “We’re trying to understand how space weather percolates into society and just how bad it can get,” says Schrijver. “The morally right thing to do once you’ve identified a threat of this magnitude is to be prepared. It’s like earthquakes in San Francisco. Not preparing for it has intolerable consequences.”
Few objects seem as familiar as the sun—there it is, up in the sky every sunny day—yet few are so strange. Look through a solar telescope, and the quotidian yellow disk is transformed into a dynamic wonderland, where planet-size prominences rise into black space like glowing jellyfish, only to loop and slither back hours or days later, as if enthralled by some unseen force.
As indeed they are. Neither solid, liquid, nor gas, the sun is made up of plasma, the “fourth state of matter,” which forms when atoms are stripped down to naked protons and electrons. All those charged particles make the solar plasma a splendid conductor of electricity—much more conductive than copper wire. The sun is also packed with magnetic fields. Most remain buried inside the sun’s massive girth, but some magnetic pipes, as thick as the Earth is wide, emerge on the surface as sunspots. This magnetism choreographs the slithery dance in the sun’s atmosphere and powers the solar wind, flinging outward a million tons of plasma every second at a million miles an hour.
Driving all this activity is the intriguingly intricate machinery of an unexceptional star. The sun’s core—a seething, 27-million-degree-Fahrenheit plasma spheroid six times as dense as gold—fuses 700 million tons of protons into helium nuclei every second, releasing the energy of ten billion hydrogen bombs in the process. The core throbs gently, expanding when fusion rates climb and contracting when they damp down. Superimposed on this slow, deep heartbeat are myriad other rhythms, ranging from an 11-year sunspot cycle to rhythms spanning centuries.
The energy produced by the fusion in the sun’s core is carried outward by high-energy photons as they ricochet through a dense maze of ions and electrons. Matter is so tightly packed in this radiation zone that it takes more than 100,000 years for the photons to emerge into the surrounding convection zone, 70 percent of the way out from the solar center. After a month or so more, the photons emerge into the photosphere, the part of the sun that we see. From there, it takes a mere eight minutes for them to reach Earth as sunlight.
As one might expect, this titanic thermonuclear furnace makes a lot of noise. “The sun rings like a bell in millions of distinct tones,” notes Mark Miesch of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. The tones generate ripples on the solar surface, which scientists study to map currents deep in the convection zone, a discipline called helioseismology. Information conveyed by helioseismic sensors aboard NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite recently enabled Stanford University researchers to detect magnetic bundles 40,000 miles below the solar surface and to predict their emergence, days later, as sunspots.
Such data provide crucial information on how solar storms form. The sun functions as a gigantic dynamo, with global magnetic field lines encircling it from pole to pole like a birdcage. Local field lines, entangled with plasma in the convection zone, twist and kink and poke through the surface, forming loops made visible by the hot, glowing plasma. When loops cross, they can essentially short-circuit, causing the tremendous plasma explosions called solar flares. Such flares release the energy equivalent of hundreds of millions of megatons of TNT, spewing x-rays and gamma rays into space and accelerating charged particles to nearly the velocity of light.
The Carrington event consisted of a powerful solar flare that produced the second of a rare pair of coronal mass ejections (CMEs)—gigantic magnetic eruptions of heated plasma belched into space. The first CME probably reached Earth in a normal span of 40 to 60 hours, clearing a path through the solar wind for the second one to make the trip in a mere 17 hours. Their combined impact squashed the Earth’s magnetosphere—where the planet’s magnetic field interacts with the solar wind—down from its normal altitude of 40,000 miles to 4,000 miles, temporarily eliminating the Van Allen radiation belts girdling the planet. Charged particles entering the upper atmosphere set off intense auroras over much of the Earth. Some people thought their cities had caught fire.
A Carrington-class super storm probably occurs only once in several centuries. But even storms of much smaller magnitude can cause considerable damage, especially as humans become increasingly dependent on technology deployed in space. Solar storms disrupt the ionosphere—the layer of Earth’s atmosphere where auroras occur, more than 60 miles above the Earth’s surface. The pilots of the nearly 11,000 commercial flights routed over the north polar region each year rely on shortwave radio signals bouncing off the ionosphere to communicate above 80 degrees of latitude, beyond the range of communications satellites orbiting over the Equator. When space weather disrupts the ionosphere and interrupts shortwave communications, pilots are obliged to change course, which can cost $100,000 a flight. A flustered ionosphere deranges GPS signals as well, resulting in positioning errors that can be more than 150 feet. This means that surveyors must pack up and go home, floating oil-drilling rigs have trouble remaining on station, and pilots cannot rely on the increasingly popular GPS-based systems employed for landing at many airfields.
UV light emitted during solar flares can also disturb satellite orbits by heating up the atmosphere, which increases drag. NASA estimates that the International Space Station descends more than a thousand feet a day when the sun is acting up. Solar storms could also affect the electronics on communications satellites, turning them into “zombie-sats,” adrift in orbit and dead to the world.
Unlike satellites in space, most power grids have no built-in protection against the onslaught of a powerful geomagnetic storm. Since large transformers are grounded to the Earth, geomagnetic storms can induce currents that could cause them to overheat, catch fire, or explode. The damage could be catastrophic. According to John Kappenman of Storm Analysis Consultants, who studies the impact of space weather on the electrical grid, a solar storm like one that took place in May 1921 would today turn out the lights over half of North America. One on the order of the 1859 event could take out the entire grid, sending hundreds of millions of people back to a pre-electric way of life for weeks or perhaps months on end. In Kappenman’s words, we’re “playing Russian roulette with the sun.”
At least we’re not playing blindfolded. In 1859 the world had few tools for studying the sun, beyond telescopes and a handful of magnetic monitoring stations. Today scientists constantly monitor our home star with an imposing armada of satellites that can take images in x-ray and ultraviolet wavelengths blocked by Earth’s atmosphere. The venerable ACE (Advanced Composition Explorer) spacecraft, launched in August 1997 and still going strong, monitors the solar wind from an orbit around the L1 libation point, a stable gravitational spot located a million miles sun-ward of the Earth. SOHO, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, carries a dozen detectors that record everything from high-speed solar-wind protons to low-speed solar oscillations. STEREO consists of a pair of satellites, one preceding and the other trailing Earth in its orbit, that together take 3-D solar images revealing how coronal mass ejections loft off the sun’s surface and speed out through space. Meanwhile the Solar Dynamics Observatory, launched into a geosynchronous orbit in February 2010, downloads 1.5 terabytes of data every day on the sun’s atmosphere, oscillations, and magnetic field.
Yet much remains to be done. “Space weather is where terrestrial weather was 50 years ago,” says physicist Douglas Biesecker of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado. Because the impact of a storm depends in part on how its magnetic field aligns with that of the Earth, scientists cannot be sure of the storm’s intensity until it reaches the ACE satellite—sometimes a mere 20 minutes before it slams into Earth.
So researchers concentrate on forecasting a storm’s potential strength and its likely arrival time, giving vulnerable systems time to prepare. Last October the NOAA group inaugurated a new computer model, called Enlil after the Sumerian god of winds, that can predict when a CME will hit Earth, plus or minus six hours—twice as accurate as previous forecasts. The modeling is complex, in part because CMEs can interact strongly with the normal solar wind, making their progress as unpredictable as that of a running back through a defensive line. The uncertainties notwithstanding, Enlil’s forecast for the arrival of a potentially major storm on March 8 of this year was off by a mere 45 minutes. That storm turned out to be a bit of a dud. We may not be so lucky next time.
“We haven’t seen anything big in this solar cycle yet,” says Biesecker. “But now we know that when the big one comes, we’ll be able to nail it.”
 
 
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