Main | Thursday, March 08, 2012

More On Tonight's Solar Storm

Twitter is abuzz with plans for Northern Lights watching parties across Britain, Canada and Europe. Astronomers say the aurora borealis may be viewable in some parts of the United States "below the Great Lakes," but a full moon tonight may dampen the effect.

The New York Times has the down side of the event.
The largest solar storm in five years was due to arrive on Earth early Thursday, promising to shake the globe's magnetic field while expanding the Northern Lights. The storm started with a massive solar flare earlier in the week and grew as it raced outward from the sun, expanding like a giant soap bubble, scientists said. When it strikes, the particles will be moving at 4 million mph. "It's hitting us right in the nose," said Joe Kunches, a scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo. The massive cloud of charged particles could disrupt utility grids, airline flights, satellite networks and GPS services, especially in northern areas.
A 1989 solar storm destroyed transformers in some parts of Canada, causing about nine million Quebec residents to lose power. [Image via BBC]

UPDATE: A reader tips us to the below aurora forecast. Activity will be "extreme" in the green band and also visible in the band below which includes New York City.

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