Starfish Prime: The First Accidental Geomagnetic Storm

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They don’t make them like that any more – we hope.

Spaceweather.com

July 9, 2022: Sixty years ago today, one of the biggest geomagnetic storms of the Space Age struck Earth. It didn’t come from the sun.

“We made it ourselves,” recalls Clive Dyer of the University of Surrey Space Centre in Guildford UK. “It was the first anthropogenic space weather event.”

On July 9, 1962, the US military detonated a thermonuclear warhead 250 miles above the Pacific Ocean–a test called “Starfish Prime.” What happened next surprised everyone. Witnesses from Hawaii to New Zealand reported auroras overhead, magnificent midnight “rainbow stripes” that tropical sky watchers had never seen before. Radios fell silent, then suddenly became noisy as streetlights went dark in Honolulu.

Above: ‘Nuclear auroras’ viewed from Honolulu (left) and from a surveillance aircraft (right) on July 9, 1962.

Essentially, Starfish Prime created an artificial solar storm complete with auroras, geomagnetic activity, and blackouts. Much of the chaos that night was…

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July 10, 2022 at 04:48PM

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