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June 8, 2021 32 min

When amateur astronomer Richard Carrington gazed through his telescope on the morning of September 1st, 1859, he noticed something weird about the surface of the sun -- it seemed to have clusters of dark spots. Later historians would recognize this as the earliest observation of a solar flare -- and a little less than 18 hours later, the associated coronal mass ejection would wreak havoc on Earth, setting telegraphs aflame, lighting up the night sky and causing many to wonder whether it was the end of the world.

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