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Aesthetic Value, Mostly

The photo below shows the northern lights, around midnight, over the Matanuska Glacier in Alaska. This is almost exactly the spot where I spent three months earlier this year. The lights are enhanced by the magnetic solar storm now emanating from the Sun.
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Actually, the point does have significance beyond the aesthetic. The Sun produces energy at a relatively constant, but still varying, rate. It is the variations in energy produced by the Sun (which can be roughly measured by the incidence of sun spots) which account for the slight variations in temperatures here on Earth. Which is hardly a surprise, if you think about it. If you superimpose a graph of solar energy, as measured by sun spot activity, over a graph of average temperatures on earth, there is an almost perfect congruence. This is not new information; the Trunk and I wrote about it an an article on global warming a decade ago. But one by-product of the current solar storms is that they have focused popular attention on the role played by fluctuations in the sun’s energy on Earthly temperatures.

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