Solar activity monitoring is set to improve dramatically, and updates come right to your phone with the free 3D Sun app.
Energy from the sun makes its 93 million-mile way to Earth in about eight minutes. When the sun acts up, kicking off violent bursts of electromagnetic energy, the effects can take the form of an awe-inspiring display of the aurora, or they can cause dropped calls on your cell phone.
In a pair of fresh developments, scientific innovations are improving our ability to monitor and predict such solar outbursts, and this information is now available in the palm of our hands.
that a new solar activity monitoring technique can collect and analyze subtle acoustic cues given off by the movement of the sun's liquid and magnetized core. This development should dramatically improve the prediction of solar flares, which we generally haven't been able to do before. And the innovation is well timed, owing to 2010 roughly coinciding with an expected uptick in solar movement per our home star's 11-year cycle of activity
Further, as Wired reports
, NASA has released a free iPhone application called 3D Sun
that allows users to keep tabs on solar goings-on. Relying upon data collected by NASA's pair of STEREO satellites
that monitor the sun from two different points in space, NASA's data stream features coverage of nearly 90 percent of the sun's surface activity. 3D Sun users can track sun spots as they develop and evolve, watch solar flares in real time and receive solar news updates from a PhD-level astrophysicist in the event of major and noteworthy solar occurrence.
And, if you live near the North Pole, 3D Sun will give an indicator that it's a perfect night to step outside and feast your eyes on that positive effect of solar outbursts, the Northern Lights.