Posted by: Robin | June 2, 2008

The Quandries of Solar Cycles

On my desktop I have the Astronomy Picture of the Day. Every day I look forward to seeing and learning something new about the universe we live in. Today I found an amazing picture of the sun with a large prominence (see for the original picture, explanation and links). I learned the differences between solar spots, solarwinds, solar flares, large prominences and Coronal Mass Ejections (CME). My mind was feeling pleasantly improved, and then I spotted a link for solar cycles (the eleven-year ebb and flow of sun spot activity). Aha! Extremely high sun flare activity figures as a key plot element in the second novel of the series I’m writing, The Fire-Dragon Star Cycle. The event in question is set in December 2016. Sooooo, I dutifully check the chart. Peak sun spot activity which correlates to high sun flare activity will be 2013. The resulting groan was about 8.2 on the Richter scale.

What’s the big deal? It’s a simple matter of making all my dates three years earlier. The initial problem? I’d almost finished the final edit of the first novel, and it contains several dated journal entries spanning a twenty year period and letters, not only dated but with the correct days of the week. It involves looking up the dates of equinoxes for those years, and changing events that have to occur on a particular day of the week. I told myself to buck up and stop being a crybaby. We must make sacrifices for our art. At least it’s not the section of book two that requires Gregorian to Julian calendar conversions. So I drag out my master time scheme for all five novels. I change all the dates to three years earlier. I go back to the website with the equinox calculator. My pointer finger goes numb as I manipulate my desktop Google calendar between 1991 and 2024, to correlate dates with the correct day of the week. I am halfway through the internal changes, saving after each one as one who has learned the hard way does, and then . . .

Surely you heard the groan as it reverberated into the stratosphere Sunday evening at 7:13 p.m. (EDT) on June 1st, 2008. I realize one of the biggest plot points of all is that one of the characters is born at the turn of the millennium. I can’t possibly change my dates to fit the solar cycle.

I hear you. BIG DEAL! IT’S FICTION! AUTHORS ARE OMNIPOTENT IN THEIR FICTIONAL WORLDS! BEND A LITTLE! Okay, okay! But if you need to summon a pixie or a nixie in December of 2016 to send an urgent message, and think you’re home free because the solar flare and CME activity is on the wane and won’t disrupt the magnetic fields that can inhibit their transition from Avalon to your backyard, well guess again! From November through the following March there is going to be some extremely anomalous solar activity. Don’t come crying to me and say I didn’t warn you.

Well, gotta go! I have to lug my fictional world forward three years in time. Omnipotence can be exhausting.




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