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Thursday, 17 February 2011

image for Strong Solar Flare Activity May Cause Rare Moonburn
Moonrise over mouintains in 2003

A space scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a warning in association with the current solar flare activity on the sun's surface. Edmund P. Rank, a scientist at NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory claims that within the next 24 to 48 hours, the solar flare activity on the sun could actually create a situation where the moon glows brighter.

Dr. Rank cautions those who wish to witness the brighter moon on Thursday night, especially those living quite close to the equator, wear long pants and sleeves and cover their heads with a hat so as to limit exposure from not only the brightness of the moon, but a particularly strong stream of hot charged particles that can move outward from the sun and cause a rare skin condition known as 'moonburn.'

"We are not joking about this people," said Dr. Rank. "Moonburn is as rare as they come but when all the pieces line up as perfectly as these do, i.e. extremely strong solar flare activity which sends x-rays and charged particles toward earth, coupled with Coronal Mass Ejections or CME's which are the hot charged particles that hurtle toward earth's atmosphere, you get not only a great show, but a great show and tell."

Dr. Rank claims that people living in Northern Ireland will have the best chance of experiencing the aurora borealis associated with the heightened flare activity. But again, he cautions "Don't go outdoors and simply look up at the moon without the proper clothing and headgear or you will be sorry the next day."

Because the event is short-lived, Dr. Rank believes there is really no threat of an increased risk of skin cancer. "However," he notes, "if you do live in the northern part of the hemisphere and happen to stay out too long on Thursday evening to catch a glimpse of the heightened Aurora Borealis, you may wind up with some very red cheeks."

Dr. Rank said that the last time this kind of event happened was in 2003, and after admiring the view of the moon in nothing more than a t-shirt and cargo shorts, he did get quite red. "In fact," he said, "when I showed up for work a few days later, just about everyone wanted to know where I went on my tropical vacation."

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