I follow a website called http://spaceweather.com and I just read about a massive solar flare 159 years ago called the Carrington event. The flare caused a huge Coronal Mass Ejection of such force that it caused telegraph stations to be put out of action including telegraph paper catching fire. This all happened in the Victorian era, when electrical gadgets were very primitive.
Reading further apparently these events happen around every 100 years so we are overdue another one, the effect of which could be very serious for our modern electronic world.
There is lots of other information there if you are a nerd like me, including near earth objects that come close to earth (measured in multiples and fractions of the distance between us and the moon), information about comets and meteor showers.