MOUNT VERNON — “Our magnetic sun” was the topic of discussion at Wednesday’s Brown Bag Chat at the Public Library of Mount Vernon. Chad Ruhl of the Warren Rupp Observatory in Bellville, and the Richland Astronomical Society came to “demonstrate magnetism’s connection to solar storms and space weather.”
Ruhl, a Mount Vernon resident, opened with an event in September of 1859 where the northern lights were extremely bright and could be seen as far south as Florida.
There were some “strange telegraph disruptions” as some operators experienced electric shocks, the machines kept “ticking” even after it had gone out, and “the paper they were printing on caught fire.” In order to explain why this could have happened, Ruhl said that scientists had begun studying solar storms and have since found a commonality between the storms and magnetism.
To demonstrate, Ruhl set up a series of experiments for the audience. By taking three rare Earth magnets under a piece of paper and sprinkling iron filings around it, he could demonstrate the magnet’s own magnetic field, which was around the magnet curving in. In addition to moving magnetic fields around, Ruhl demonstrated how “we can affect and create electricity” by moving the magnetic fields. Ruhl took an empty flash light with a “free floating magnet” and shook the flash light, until it had enough charge to make the flashlight up.
Ruhl then displayed a photo of Earth’s magnetic field, which has a regular pattern. He then demonstrated the Earth’s magnetic field by waving a magnet over a compass; that the magnetic field “of the magnet is overshadowing that of the Earth’s magnetic field,” said Ruhl.
Contact Emily WeaverEmail
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.