Flights rerouted as a precaution after massive solar storm Solar radiation from a massive sun storm — the largest in nearly a decade — collided with the Earth’s atmosphere on Tuesday, prompting airlines including Air Canada to reroute flights and skywatchers to seek out spectacular light displays.
Air Canada had rerouted its flights over the Arctic, including those to Tokyo, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, as a safety precaution.
“They decided to fly a little further south. No further north than 70 degrees,” said Peter Fitzpatrick, Air Canada spokesman. “It added a bit [of time to the flights]. But it was purely a precautionary measure.”
Delta Air Lines Inc. rerouted as many as eight transpolar flights between the U.S. and Asia. Jets were sent farther south, lengthening trips by about 15 minutes, to avoid potential radio disruptions, Anthony Black, a Delta spokesman, said on Tuesday. He told AFP that “a handful” of routes had their journey adjusted “based on potential impact” of the solar storm on communications.
Routes from Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul took a more southerly route after the solar flare erupted on Sunday.
Photo: The aurora borealis near the city of Tromsoe in northern Norway January 25, 2012. (Reuters/Rune Stoltz Bertinussen/Scanpix)
Cool Space Photo of the Day A view of the Midwestern U.S. from the International Space Station, showing the Aurora Borealis reflecting off Canada in the distance. Picture taken Sept. 29, 2011. (NASA/Reuters)
Aurora of the Day A NASA image captured from the International Space Station taken on September 26, 2011 shows a rare aurora appearing in red. The colours depend on which atoms are causing the splash of light seen in the aurora.
In most cases, the light comes when a charged particle sweeps in from the solar wind and collides with an oxygen atom in Earth’s atmosphere. This produces a green photon, so most auroras appear green. However, lower-energy oxygen collisions as well as collisions with nitrogen atoms can produce red photons - so sometimes aurora also show a red band as seen here. (NASA/Reuters)