This past week has offered much excitement for space weather scientists and enthusiasts, alike. On Friday July 14, a major flare shot off the surface of the sun, pummeling Earth with a massive solar-radiation storm that interfered with satellite and radio communications and delayed a Russian space launch. The flare was one of the most powerful of the current eleven-year solar cycle (and the biggest solar radiation event since 1989) and was followed by a coronal mass ejection -- "a blast of billions of tons of electrically charged atomic particles and magnetic energy hurled in the Earth's direction at 3 million miles an hour" (1)
. When a very powerful coronal mass ejection hits the Earth's magnetosphere, a shock wave can compress the magnetosphere and unleash a geomagnetic storm -- causing interference with electric power transmission and triggering beautiful aurorae. Friday's flare was one of three storms last week, and the biggest since a small solar storm made the news in June (see the June 9, 2000 Scout Report
for additional resources). Although this weekend's storms have diminished, more activity is anticipated as the sunspot group that is producing flares (region 9077) will continue to face the earth for another week.