John Henry Clayton (2015)A Perfect Solar Superstorm: The 1859 Carrington EventLast Thursday, the world braced itself as the strongest solar storm in five years raced toward the planet. Fortunately, it delivered only a glancing blow, and global communications continued to operate without disruption. In 1859 Earth wasn’t so lucky. The Carrington Event On the morning of September 1, 1859, amateur astronomer Richard Carrington ascended into the private observatory attached to his country estate outside of London. After cranking open the dome’s shutter to reveal the clear blue sky, he pointed his brass telescope toward the sun and began to sketch a cluster of enormous dark spots that freckled its surface. Suddenly, Carrington spotted what he described as “two patches of intensely bright and white light” erupting from the sunspots. That night, telegraph communications around the world began to fail; there were reports of sparks showering from telegraph machines, shocking operators and setting papers ablaze.
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