2012 Solar Flare
Solar flares normally just give the awed humans on Earth a spectacular light show. When it comes to phenomenon on the surface of the Sun, most people are either mildly curious or head outside to see if they can catch a glimpse of the Northern or Southern Lights. The 2012 solar flare, however, would have turned just about anything more technically advanced than a spear into firework.
The 2012 solar event was a massive solar flare that erupted in July 2012. The solar flare ripped through Earth’s orbit, but the third planet from the Sun scraped through by the skin of its teeth. The Earth was just outside of the line of fire, but the event hit so close to home that it ripped into the Stereo-A spacecraft and struck the portion of Earth’s orbit where the planet had been sitting one short week earlier. Had the solar flare actually impacted Earth, the results would have been disastrous. A similar event did strike earth in 1859, the Carrington Event.
The Carrington Event slammed into Earth’s atmosphere with the force of 10 billion atomic bombs and was so bright that people thought it was morning. The “solar EMP” that followed the flare knocked out telegraph stations across the world with such force that telegraph offices burst into flames. Imagine the same scenario with the number of electronic devices that litter the world, all of which would be sparking and breaking from the solar flare. As Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado said, “If [the 2012 solar flare] had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces.” Thankfully, God is fond of this little Blue Planet and decided not to quick-fry it in solar radiation.