Three large explosions from the Sun over the past several days have prompted U.S. government scientists to caution users of electric equipment and satellite, telecommunications devices to prepare for possible disruptions over the next few weeks.
“The magnetic storm, that is soon to develop, probably will be in the moderate to strong level,” said Joseph Kunches, a space weather scientist at the Space Weather Prediction Center, a division of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
He said solar storms could affect communications and global positioning system (GPS) satellites and might even produce an aurora visible as far south as Minnesota and Wisconsin.
An aurora, called aurora borealis or the northern lights in northern latitudes, is a natural light display in the sky in the Arctic and Antarctic regions caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere.
In the past several months we have published a few articles about the potential effects of new/increased traffic from radio signals that are close to those used by your trusty GPS. The articles were titled Don’t Mess With Our GPS, GPS Signals in Jeopardy and How Increased Radio Traffic Could Effect Your Navigation respectively. Each article encouraged boaters to contact the Federal Communications Commision (FCC) to voice their opposition.
Unfortunately that comment period is over and we await the final decision from the FCC.
Recreational boaters could be significantly affected with GPS interference, especially in light of losing their only other viable electronic navigation system, LORAN, when the Department of Homeland Security shut the system down last year.
Perhaps it would be a good time to brush up on or learn for the first time the tried and true art of basic navigation using an up-to-date chart and a few basic plotting tools. To get back to the basics introduce yourself to the Nautical Know How Coastal Navigation Course at http://boatsafe.com/navigation.