After Hours

Gallery: Real threats from space

NASA scientists are predicting a below average solar cycle beginning in 2011, similiar to the one that existed in 1859 when massive solar storms sent a flare that set fire to some telegraph offices - the communications system at the time. Imagine the problems if that happened today.

Officials met last week at the Space Weather Enterprise Forum to keep the world aware and begin to prepare for similar storms and flares that would have a major impact on the Earth's technology - GPS, satellites, power grids - and even your cell phone. There's a much bigger threat to our technology than to you.

Right now, we're virtually defenseless to a solar flare but NASA scientists are proposing a string of satellites around the sun that could see a major eruption and predict its path. Also under consideration are plans to shut down electrical grids if a potential threat occurs.

In this gallery we'll look at some real solar flares and daily space weather tracking - including a close encounter with an asteroid today.

Credit: NASA/Martin Stojanovski