Magnetic storm. Magnetic meridian geographical meridiaan

Magnetic storm

A magnetic storm is a period of rapid magnetic field variation. It can last from hours to days.  Magnetic storms have two basic causes:

  • The Sun sometimes emits a strong surge of solar wind called a coronal mass ejection. This gust of solar wind disturbs the outer part of the Earth’s magnetic field, which undergoes a complex oscillation. This generates associated electric currents in the near-Earth space environment, which in turn generates additional magnetic-field variations — all of which constitute a “magnetic storm.”
  • Occasionally, the Sun’s magnetic field directly links with that of the Earth. This direct magnetic connection is not the normal state of affairs, but when it occurs, charged particles, traveling along magnetic-field lines, can easily enter the magnetosphere, generate currents, and cause the magnetic field to undergo time-dependent variation. Sometimes the Sun emits a coronal mass ejection at a time when the magnetic-field lines of the Earth and Sun are directly connected. Then we can experience a truly large magnetic storm.

Magnetic meridian

The magnetic meridian is an equivalent imaginary line connecting the magnetic south and north poles and can be taken as the horizontal component of magnetic force lines along the surface of the earth. Therefore, a compass needle will be parallel to the magnetic meridian.

Geographical meridian

A geographical meridian (or line of longitude) is the half of an imaginary great circle on the Earth’s surface, terminated by the North Pole and the South Pole, connecting points of equal longitude. The position of a point along the meridian is given by its latitude indicating how many degrees north or south of the Equator the point is. Each meridian is perpendicular to all circles of latitude. Each is also the same length, being half of a great circle on the Earth’s surface and therefore measuring 20,003.93 km (12,429.9 miles).

Toward the ending of the 19th century there were two main locations that were acknowledged as the geographic location of the meridian, France and Britain. These two locations often conflicted and a settlement was reached only after there was an International Meridian Conference held, in which Greenwich was recognized as the 0° location.

The meridian through Greenwich (inside Greenwich Park), England, called the Prime Meridian, was set at zero degrees of longitude, while other meridians were defined by the angle at the center of the earth between where it and the prime meridian cross the equator. As there are 360 degrees in a circle, the meridian on the opposite side of the earth from Greenwich, the anti meridian, forms the other half of a circle with the one through Greenwich, and is at 180° longitude near the International Date Line (with land mass and island deviations for boundary reasons). The meridians from West of Greenwich (0°) to the anti meridian (180°) define the Western Hemisphere and the meridians from East of Greenwich (0°) to the anti meridian (180°) define the Eastern Hemisphere. Most maps show the lines of longitude.

The position of the prime meridian has changed a few times throughout history, mainly due to the transit observatory being built next door to the previous one (to maintain the service to shipping). Such changes had no significant practical effect. Historically, the average error in the determination of longitude was much larger than the change in position. The adoption of WGS84 (“World Geodetic System 84”) as the positioning system has moved the geodetic prime meridian 102.478 metres east of its last astronomic position (measured at Greenwich). The position of the current geodetic prime meridian is not identified at all by any kind of sign or marking (as the older astronomic position was) in Greenwich, but can be located using a GPS receiver.

Impact of Prime Meridian ( Greenwich Time)

It was in the best interests of the nations to agree to one standard meridian to benefit their fast growing economy and production. The disorganized system they had before was not sufficient for their increasing mobility. The coach services in England had erratic timing before the GWT. U.S. and Canada were also improving their railroad system and needed a standard time as well. With a standard meridian, stage coach and trains were able to be more efficient. The argument of which meridian is more scientific was set aside in order to find the most convenient for practical reasons. They were also able to agree that the universal day was going to be the mean solar day.

The meridian passage is the moment when a celestial object passes the meridian of longitude of the observer. At this point, the celestial object is at its highest point. When the sun passes two times an altitude while rising and setting can be averaged to give the time of meridian passage. Navigators utilized the sun’s declination and the sun’s altitude at local meridian passage, in order to calculate their latitude with the formula.


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