Richard Christopher Carrington

Carrington's house and observatory on Furze Hill, Redhill, Surrey (between 1852 and 1857)
Sunspots of 1 September 1859 as sketched by Richard Carrington

English amateur astronomer whose 1859 astronomical observations demonstrated the existence of solar flares as well as suggesting their electrical influence upon the Earth and its aurorae; and whose 1863 records of sunspot observations revealed the differential rotation of the Sun.

- Richard Christopher Carrington

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Redhill, Surrey

Town in the borough of Reigate and Banstead within the county of Surrey, England.

View from Redhill Common towards St John's Church August 2000
Holmethorpe Quarry, before residential development
St John's
The War Memorial, with St Paul's United Reformed Church behind.
Lloyds Bank, Redhill
Dunottar School, near Redhill Common

Richard Carrington, an amateur astronomer, moved to Redhill in 1852, and built a house and observatory.

Solar flare

Intense localized eruption of electromagnetic radiation in the Sun's atmosphere.

An X5.4-class solar flare causing blooming, vertical streaking, and diffraction patterns to form in the image taken by the 131 Å sensor aboard the Solar Dynamics Observatory on 6 March 2012
A post-eruption arcade present after an X5.7-class solar flare during the Bastille Day solar storm.
Richard Carrington's sketch of the first recorded solar flare (A and B mark the initial bright points which moved over the course of five minutes to C and D before disappearing)
Space weather—March 2012.

Solar flares were first observed by Richard Carrington and Richard Hodgson independently on 1 September 1859 by projecting the image of the solar disk produced by an optical telescope through a broad-band filter.


Natural light display in Earth's sky, predominantly seen in high-latitude regions (around the Arctic and Antarctic).

Images of auroras from around the world, including those with rarer red and blue lights
Aurora australis seen from the ISS, 2017.
Different forms
Construction of a keogram from one night's recording by an all-sky camera, 6/7 September 2021. Keograms are commonly used to visualize changes in aurorae over time.
An animation
Schematic of Earth's magnetosphere
The Aboriginal Australians associated auroras (which are mainly low on the horizon and predominantly red) with fire.
Aurora pictured as wreath of rays in the coat of arms of Utsjoki
Church's 1865 painting Aurora Borealis
Jupiter aurora; the far left bright spot connects magnetically to Io; the spots at the bottom of the image lead to Ganymede and Europa.
A movie

In a paper to the Royal Society on 21 November 1861, Balfour Stewart described both auroral events as documented by a self-recording magnetograph at the Kew Observatory and established the connection between the 2 September 1859 auroral storm and the Carrington–Hodgson flare event when he observed that "It is not impossible to suppose that in this case our luminary was taken in the act."

Carrington Event

The most intense geomagnetic storm in recorded history, peaking from 1 to 2 September 1859 during solar cycle 10.

Sunspots of 1 September 1859, as sketched by Richard Carrington. A and B mark the initial positions of an intensely bright event, which moved over the course of five minutes to C and D before disappearing.
The solar storm of 2012, as photographed by STEREO, was a CME of comparable strength to the one which is thought to have struck the Earth during the 1859 Carrington Event.
Aurora during a geomagnetic storm that was most likely caused by a coronal mass ejection from the Sun on 24 May 2010, taken from the International Space Station

It was observed and recorded independently by British astronomers Richard Carrington and Richard Hodgson – the first records of a solar flare.


Village and civil parish in the borough of Waverley in Surrey, England, about 5.5 mi south of the town of Farnham on the A287 road towards Hindhead.

Coniferous woods in Whitmore Vale, Churt

The amateur astronomer Richard Carrington, whose 1859 astronomical observations first corroborated the existence of solar flares, moved to Churt in 1865.

Solar rotation

Solar rotation varies with latitude.

Internal rotation in the Sun, showing differential rotation in the outer convective region and almost uniform rotation in the central radiative region. The transition between these regions is called the tachocline.

The "Carrington longitude" of the same feature refers it to an arbitrary fixed reference point of an imagined rigid rotation, as defined originally by Carrington.

Balfour Stewart

Scottish physicist and meteorologist.

At the 11 November 1859 meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society, Richard Carrington presented a paper describing his observations of the super flare that occurred on 1 September, at 11:18 GMT and later named in his honor.

James Challis

English clergyman, physicist and astronomer.

However, despite his tenacity in advocating his physical and theological theories, they had little impact, and in fact Richard Carrington credited him as his professor with inspiring his decision to pursue astronomy rather than become a clergyman.

Spörer's law

Spörer's law predicts the variation of sunspot latitudes during a solar cycle.

A decaying sunspot shown over the course of two hours. The umbra is separated into two pieces within the penumbra by a lightbridge. Solar pores are also visible to the left of the penumbra.

It was discovered by the English astronomer Richard Christopher Carrington around 1861.

Elias Loomis

American mathematician.

Loomis Observatory, completed in 1838, is the oldest observatory in the United States still in its original location.

The later reports on the Carrington Super Flare did not enjoy the same level of coverage, even though some of the displays may have been more spectacular given the timing of the events.