Why It's a Mind Blow: Coronal Mass Ejection: it sounds like a good name for a militant punk rock band. Analogously, these stellar phenomena rage against the status quo on the surface of the Sun with relative frequency, and Monday's blast was part of a recent flare up of activity, consistent with an eleven year cycle of solar weather.
Beyond the raw power of these bursts lies a deep beauty, in more ways than one. Here on Earth, as the radiation of a coronal mass ejection bombards our atmosphere, it is transformed from certain death into celestial delight in the form of auroras (northern lights).
These displays are not only visually stunning. They are also a gentle and quiet reminder of how fortunate we really are. The improbable course of events that led to us simply being here, that formed magnetic fields to protect us from the violent universe, that gave us a mind and a heart to take it all in; it's all truly mind-blowing.
Finally, you may remember my post Matters of Size (April 12). I mentioned it would take seventeen years to fly a jet plane to the Sun. It's really far away, and yet this footage looks as though it was shot on the back lot at Warner Brothers or from the bridge of the star ship Enterprise. I think it's important to remember just how incredible this is. Our ability to observe and comprehend the universe is moving so quickly, and we are lucky to be along for the ride!