Get Ready for a Stunning Show: Powerful Sun Storm May Supercharge Auroras

Sun Storm May Create Breathtaking Auroras in the Night Sky this week

The sun is the closest star to Earth, and it’s responsible for the solar outbursts that create stunning auroras in our skies. On Sunday (May 7), the sun emitted a long-duration M1.5-class solar flare, which is a medium-intensity event, directly at Earth. The resulting high levels of radiation caused minor shortwave radio blackouts on Earth, according to Spaceweather.com. The solar flare was also associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME), an eruption of solar plasma that’s now heading towards our planet. The CME is expected to hit Earth early Wednesday morning (May 10), potentially sparking moderate to strong geomagnetic activity when it does so.

Understanding Solar Flares and CMEs

Solar flares are bright bursts of electromagnetic radiation that are emitted from sunspots. These sunspots are areas of the sun that are cooler than the surrounding area, caused by the sun’s magnetic field. When the magnetic field becomes twisted and stressed, it can release an enormous amount of energy in the form of a solar flare.

CMEs, on the other hand, are expulsions of plasma and magnetized particles from the sun that travel more slowly through space. They are often associated with solar flares, and the brightest solar flares do often coincide with CMEs.

The impact of CMEs on Earth is primarily related to the aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights. These breathtaking light shows occur when the solar particles collide with Earth’s atmosphere, causing the air molecules to emit light.

What to Expect from the Incoming Solar Storm

The incoming solar storm is expected to result in moderate to strong geomagnetic activity, potentially sparking some spectacular auroral displays. Moderate geomagnetic storms can make auroras visible as far south as New York or Idaho, while strong ones can bring them into view for folks all the way down in Illinois or Oregon.



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However, it’s essential to remember that space weather, like Earth weather, is a fickle thing, and forecasts can change at any moment. While the current predictions suggest that the solar storm will be moderate to strong, there’s always a chance that it may be weaker or stronger than expected.

Tips for Skywatching

If you’re interested in catching a glimpse of the auroras, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, make sure you’re in a location with a clear view of the northern horizon. Light pollution can make it more challenging to see the auroras, so try to find a spot away from city lights.

Secondly, be patient. While the incoming solar storm is expected to result in some stunning auroras, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to see them. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and be prepared to wait for a while.

Finally, make sure you have the right gear. A camera with a tripod is essential for capturing photos of the auroras. You’ll also want to dress appropriately for the weather, as you may be outside for an extended period of time.

Conclusion

The solar outburst on Sunday is an exciting event for skywatchers, and the incoming solar storm is expected to result in some spectacular auroral displays. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to see them, if you’re in a location with a clear view of the northern horizon and you’re patient, you may be in luck.

This Article Was Originally Posted On Space.com