Skip to comments.Major Sun Storm May Supercharge Northern Lights This Week
Posted on 03/07/2012 8:42:20 PM PST by BenLurkin
A massive solar storm may spark an intense northern lights display for skywatchers at high latitudes tonight and Thursday (March 8) as a wave of charged particles reach the planet.
Two huge solar flares erupted from the sun late Tuesday (March 6), triggering one of the most powerful solar storms in more than five years. The solar tempest is expected to intensify aurora displays (also known as the northern and southern lights) on Earth, according to space weather scientist Joseph Kunches, of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
One of the big sun flares unleashed a cloud of solar plasma and charged particles, called a coronal mass ejection (CME), into space. While the CME is not expected to hit Earth directly, the wave could deliver a glancing blow to the planet.
The CME, which is traveling at roughly 4 million mph (6.4 kph), is expected to reach Earth tomorrow morning at around 7 a.m. EST (1200 GMT), Kunches said. But, material could arrive at the planet as early as 1:25 a.m. EST (0625 GMT), plus or minus 7 hours, according to NASA scientists. [ Photos of the big solar flares ]
As the energetic particles impact Earth's magnetic field, aurora displays could be amplified for well-placed skywatchers around the world.
"Skywatchers at all latitudes should be alert for auroras," astronomer Tony Phillips wrote on his website Spaceweather.com, which regularly monitors space weather events.
A bright, nearly full moon will also be competing for dominance, but provided the weather is clear, lucky skywatchers could be treated to spectacular aurora displays, Kunches said.
Airliners with routes that fly over the polar caps could also experience communications issues during this time, and some commercial aircraft operators have already taken precautionary actions, he added.
(Excerpt) Read more at msnbc.msn.com ...
Forecast: Auroral activity will be high(+). Weather permitting, highly active auroral displays will be visible overhead from Inuvik, Yellowknife, Rankin and Igaluit to Vancouver, Helena, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Bay City, Toronto, Montpelier, and Charlottetown, and visible low on the horizon from Salem, Boise, Cheyenne, Lincoln, Indianapolis and Annapolis.
Forecaster Comments: The auroral activity index of 5 and 6 that occurred on the 7th (today) is the result of the solar event on the 5th that was the subject of the previous alert. Aurora should have been visible as far south as the middle of the US on the night of Mar 6/7, as we predicted in the last alert.
A large solar event early on the 7th of March was directly more closely to the Earth-Sun line, and should produce more activity. The debris should reach Earth sometime in the late morning of March 8 GMT. This means that the resulting aurora may be visible late on the night of the 7th/8th from Alaska, but Western Russia, Europe, and the US will probably see activity levels of Kp=5 or greater on the night of March 8/9.
It’s more than likely to occur.
Salem? What state? Oregon? Massachusetts?????? sheesh.
Clear skies here in the SF Bay Area (38 degrees north). Wonder if we’ll see anything?
Great, (sarcasm off), I’ll be in a flight from Paris to Dallas. I’ll be on the right side of the plane, but I won’t have a window seat. The windows at the galleys can be pretty pathetic.
The kids in Iceland saw them tonight while we were on skype. They tried to show it to us but it didn’t work..too much street light..I hear it was awesome.