Oceanus Magazine
Back to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's Homepage

Images: From Ancient Roman Omens, New Data on Solar Activity

This image of the Sun in extreme ultraviolet light, as viewed by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, shows bright active regions and a prominence?signs that the Sun may be ready to blast aurora-causing energy and particles at the Earth. Some researchers believe that solar activity may have an impact on global climate. Courtesy of the European Space Agency and NASA. (European Space Agency and NASA)

Auroras, or northern lights, were viewed by the Romans and other ancient peoples as omens. Records of great auroras from 2000 years ago have become a modern data set for space scientists and climate researchers. (Jan Curtis)

A plot of the number of sunspots (yellow curve) and of geomagnetic storms ? which provoke auroras (red curve) ? reveals how the cycle of auroral activity lags behind the solar cycle, but keeps the same 11-year pace. (Courtesy of Joe Allen/SCOSTEP)