Remember 1859? 2013 will be the peak of solar activity.

I doubt many people reading this have personal memories of September 1859.  The question was rhetorical.  And yet that date should now stick in your mind.

in 2013 your earth’s yellow Sun’s activity, such as solar flares and coronal Mass ejections, will reach a peak in its 11 cycle.

Every 11 years, as the Sun’s magnetic field reaches its maximum, the field “snaps” and the solar poles flip.  The Sun has a little nutty and sporadically spits out billions of tons of charged particles.

Will this be the year when a massive CME hits the planet and throws us back to the 18th century?

If we get hit by a blast like the one in 1859, we are in serious trouble.  Aurora Borealis was seen as far south as the Caribbean.  In North American people could read at night.  Telegraph systems were blown out, some even starting on fire.  Some telegraph systems were so supercharged that even when disconnected from their power sources they could still transmit.

The 1859 event didn’t affect civilization very much because there was hardly anything that used electricity then.

But today?


Our technology is not, in general, near “hardened” enough to withstand an 1859 event.

And it is only a matter of time before such an event strikes again.

Remember in August 2003 when some high-voltage lines, which because of the heat, stretched and sagged into some trees and, BAMMO, power-grid lost in Ontario and Northeastern states all the way to Michigan.  That interruption was only for a couple days. Imagine the interruption and then the power doesn’t come back on.  Most cities would be nine meals away from total meltdown, lethal chaos.

To brighten your day a bit more.

Here is a video from NASA about solar maximum.




About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Aren’t there prophecies [I’ll have to go look up who…] from various sources that warn about the sudden loss of power in cars and such as dire punishments get closer and more severe? After reading a bit about EMPs [Electro Magnetic Pulse] and the effect on all our digital technology, it doesn’t seem far-fetched that our dependent technologies would come to a full stop with a solar flare.

    Some theorize that we live in an artificial environment, created within the last 100 years, that is diabolical. Rather than flame, we have electric lights. Rather than growing our own food, we eat ‘modified’ foods. Rather than horse-power and walking, we ride in re-created ‘horses’. We even think we are ‘civilized’ but in reality are ‘technologized’ as our morals and behavior reflect barbarism and we get further and further from practices closely based in natural, simplified creation, preferring technology that coddles our laziness in every way – even to the point of using calculators instead of our brains.

    If this is true, you just gotta kinda wonder…is it time for this to end? Will we be happier?

  2. LarryD says:

    You mean Obama won’t be able to stop it?


  3. Jim in VT says:

    Of greater concern is that this peak in solar activity will be historically low. We have not experienced the sun so quiet since the Dalton minimum of the early 1800s.

  4. TEOTWAWKI … this is scaring me Father. Is the Assassin’s Creed III situation really coming to light??? [I’ll bet that’s a video game. I only know Halo.] Is this the Great Chastizement and the Three Days of Darkness predicted in the accounts of saints et al???

    Will the only safe places to be are in the busoms of EF churches and or the dreaded SSPX communities????

    Should we purchase firearms or other weapons??? WHAT ARE WE TO DO ?????? [Guns, ammo, food, a way to purify water, some good clothing, network with others, etc., and make a plan.]

  5. joan ellen says:

    On Sunday Fr.’s homily mentioned be ready. I was thinking that he was referring to the politics of it all. But then I don’t know that he wasn’t also thinking of this Solar Flare phenomenon.

    I can’t help but wonder what the physicists are doing for their preparation for a solar event. If anything.

  6. Thomas S says:

    Is that Bill Maher’s Evil Oriental Twin in the last video? Or, uh, I guess that would make him Bill Maher’s Good Oriental Twin.

  7. moon1234 says:

    This is normal activity for the sun. Us amateur radio operators look forward to the upside (more active) time of the solar cycle. It means much better night time communications over long distance. Not too worried about CME’s.

    MOst electronics that are in a farady cage (metal box) will be just fine. If you house has aluminum siding you will most likely suffer no ill effects. Diesel engines that don’t rely on a computer to run will be unaffected.

    I would NOT want to live in a large city even if the power WAS on.

  8. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Our technology is not, in general, near “hardened” enough to withstand an 1859 event.”

    Neither are our people :( [Most of the population will be as dead as the electronics in a matter of months.]

  9. Geoffrey says:

    Isn’t this all a bunch of doomsday-apocalyptic-conspiracy-theory hogwash? If not, what can/should one to do prepare? I watch NBC’s “Revolution”, but I have a feeling that is not enough!

  10. yatzer says:

    So there is an upside for we who live in aluminum-sided houses? I must remember this when our snooty relatives smirk at our bourgeois domicile.

  11. Bryan Boyle says:

    but think of the great DX on the HF bands…luckily, I have tube rigs…:).

  12. The Masked Chicken says:

    “So there is an upside for we who live in aluminum-sided houses?”

    I live in a six-sided house :) [Coop.]

    The Chicken

  13. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Isn’t this all a bunch of doomsday-apocalyptic-conspiracy-theory hogwash? If not, what can/should one to do prepare?”

    Go to confession.

    Fr Z's Gold Star Award

  14. Catholictothecore says:

    Thanks for posting this, Fr. Z. It gives us time to prepare.

  15. Jerry says:

    “MOst electronics that are in a farady cage (metal box) will be just fine”

    As long as there are no cables plugged into said boxes.

  16. majuscule says:

    Is TEOTWAWKI just a bunch of DACTH?

    As Chicken says, best go to confession.

    Or should that be BGTC?



  17. Supertradmum says:

    Those of us on life-giving meds will be the first affected as we shall not be able to get our meds. This happened to me last year in Malta, when one of my meds was not available for several weeks. I found another source, thankfully. As to planning, only Americans and Canadians are good at this sort of thing-the pioneer spirit. Europeans are SO brainwashed that the State will always help them that they are brain-dead to the realities of the times. The Catholics here pretend things will be OK. At least some Americans, especially on this blog, can look ahead without panicking and plan. I miss that pioneer spirit. The most courageous went to America and Canada. Do not squander that heritage.

    I predict mass suicides, which is why we MUST evangelize NOW.

  18. Solar Maximum, EMP weapons, Cyber Warfare, or natural disaster, it just makes sense to prepare in even the most basic sense. Get some supplies and some protection (there’ll be no calling 911)! It doesn’t take a bunker full, but having enough on hand to take care of yourself and your family for a while – at least a few weeks – is just common sense. I was amazed yet again in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy how so many people were going hungry 48 hours later. I could understand those who lost everything, but many were people whose homes were un- or slightly damaged. That’s your destiny if you don’t prepare.

    Have a Plan! If the power went off immediately and unexpectedly, what would you do? Where would your family be? Do you have a procedure set up to gather them all up and get them home or some other safe place? If the crisis is long-term do you know where you would go or what you would do to survive?

    For God’s sake, prepare.

    Prudence is not paranoia.

  19. Hidden One says:

    Some of us can’t afford to prepare.

    (Don’t tell me I can’t afford not to. Not preparing – other than by going to Confession – is a lot cheaper… and some of us even have trouble affording life even as things are.)

  20. dans0622 says:

    I heard about this 1859 event yesterday from a caller to Michael Medved’s radio show. I think that was the first time I learned of it. Fortunately, we don’t need any technology for Sacraments, right?

  21. I was watching a couple of Doomsday Preppers shows [Nat Geo channel] last night on the DVR and this one American guy had a new fiancee from Columbia. She was puzzled by his prepping, admitting that Columbians don’t do this. I guess Europeans don’t either.
    Do you s’pose one reason other countries don’t ‘prep’ is because they are closer to farms, markets and healthy food supplies? Americans, historically affected by the huge distances that most live from food supplies, are the ones who don’t shop every morning for dinner. When the trip into town used to be two-day trip by wagon and mule, Americans learned to preserve and store foods like few other communities. Salting meat, canning foods, we have huge fridges, freezers and pantries. We use Tupperware and preservatives.
    We Americans must think differently about how we are going to eat – we store, while much smaller countries maybe grow their own or expect fresh bread and produce at the nearby local market daily.
    We use much more gasoline/petrol because we have huge distances to cover – another consideration if one expects to get outta town when disaster strikes.

    Also, do we respond to the siege mentality much more readily?

  22. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Have a Plan! If the power went off immediately and unexpectedly, what would you do?”

    “Some of us can’t afford to prepare.”

    Well, let ol’ Doc Chicken help. My electric bill last month (or the month before) was $6.00 ($4.00 of that is mandatory) and, yet, I watch 4 hours of DVDs a day, work on the computer 1 to 4 hours, stay warm, occasionally cook (well, microwave), and confound the electric company.

    “Why, Chicken, how do you do that?”

    Why, yes, little Lady, you too, can share in the joys of a low electric bill, all for a low monthly fee. Thousand – well, I haven’t really counted, but I suspect, I can imagine the number is in the thousands – of people just like you have subscribed to this little booklet – The Chicken’s Method of Surviving the Coming Electronic Holocaust, all for a low, low fee. Written with famed (well, he should be) Indian guide, TEO-TWAW-KI, this little booklet will show you, among other things:

    1. How to make food grow in the ground in only nine months (no longer than the time it takes to grow a baby or your money back).

    2. How to cook using only a battery and steel wool – and, for even additional savings, you can use the steel wool to clean the pans and plates when you are done (pots and pans are optional and may add a small cost).

    3. Shower using a mirror – even at night.

    4. How to make clothing out of barrel cactus (combining clothing and living habitat at a great savings – this includes protection against wolves and coyotes).

    5. Greatly increase your ability to see without a flashlight (especially useful for those without eyelids).

    Why, yes, this little book will turn you into a fearless fowl or at the very least put you in a fowl mood. You, too, can have the safety and security of knowing that you will never have to worry about your friends attacking during the trying times ahead. We will show you seven proven methods of getting rid of those friends and antagonizing well-wishers.

    All this for one low price of $29.95. After making this one small payment and reading the booklet, you, too, will come to realize how I spend so little of my own money on electric bills.

    Act, now. Operators (well, my cousin, Willie) are standing (squatting) by.

    The Chicken

  23. The Masked Chicken says:

    Really, one can prepare for very little. We should start collecting ideas.

    The Chicken

  24. Andy Lucy says:

    Because of these silly “Prepper” TV shows, people view prepping as buying mass quantities of MREs and constructing bunkers. Having eaten MREs for extended periods of time, I prefer other stuff.

    If you are on a REALLY tight budget, simply buy 3 or 4 extra cans of whatever you usually eat every time you go to the grocery store. Allow your prep pantry to slowly accumulate and rotate out the food, eating the first bought so that nothing gets shelf rot. Baby steps.

    Defense does not have to be an AR-15, AK-47 or similar popular platform. Start with what you have. Do you have a baseball bat? There’s your tactical percussive striking implement. Use what you have. The most important prepping tool you will ever have is between your ears and under your scalp. But know this… if you don’t have a way to keep what is yours, large hairy individuals with no regard for property rights will come and take it away from you… and your family.

    Preparing spiritually is important… make no mistake. But I can think of no reason whatsoever not to prepare for temporal eventualities as well as spiritual. It does not require cash… just a little skull sweat… and maybe some actual sweat. But it can be done.

  25. VexillaRegis says:

    Dear Chicken,
    I have an idea of where to look, after you’ve bought canned food and so on. The last couple of days there has been discussions on here about salvation, sacred music, defenseless children and father Bach. Here is an aria for you: Jesus takes care of the tiny chickens (Küchlein). ” Seek!” – Where?” ” In Jesus’s arms. Live, die, rest there, ye abandoned chicken, stay!”

    ( It’s an old recording, but Christa Ludwig is always Christa Ludwig.)

    AND- if you can write music like this, you will end up in heaven, even if you happen to have been a lutheran!

  26. Kerry says:

    Hmm…firearms. I’d suggest these three, a pump action shotgun, a .22 rifle and a handgun. For the latter, 9mm is the most ubiquitous caliber. The various Mossberg 500 shotguns, the Remington 870 series, and the H&R are all good, and not terribly expensive. The H&R is, I believe, about $200 new. Buy the others used. And find someone to talk with about them besides those who are selling them. Shotguns can be used for squirrels, rabbits and pigeons with #4-#6 shot. #4 buckshot and slugs are for more dangerous game. Here’s some broad info: http://www(dot) The most popular and common .22 rifle is the Ruger 10-22. It’s a 10 round semi-automatic. Small game and perhaps defensive use at some distance as a repellent, rather than a knock down round. Although, a la Jeff Cooper, it can be aimed at the tear duct. My only suggestion on pistols is find what feels good in the hand, and absolutely find a shooting range and rent and fire a few. Food: we’ve been putting food by in canning jars for several years now, and are just beginning to can meats. (Rabbits of course.) A pressure canner is wonderful. And I strongly second what Andy Lucy said, buy a little more at a time. You should see how many bags of garbanzo beans we have. We have also been buying wheat from a feed store, and have a grain mill with which to grind it. Here’s some water information: http://woodpilereport(dot)com/html/index-page2.htm Also, swimming pool chlorine will keep much longer than liquid bleach for purifying water. (I don’t have the quantity per water calculated.) If anyone wants to chat more, let me know, and we’ll figure out some way to connect without spammers piling one. “IHS”

  27. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Really, one can prepare for very little.”

    I meant that one can get prepared for very little money. I did not mean to sound pessimistic about preparing for things, in general.

  28. VexillaRegis says:

    Chicken:”…for very little money” ah, good, I interpreted you sentence in both ways, but wasn’t sure :-) Anyway, with confession, canned food, some cerebral transpiration and Bach, You can’t go wrong. ;-) !

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