For Star Watchers: A Fireworks Show Called Northern Lights Is Coming
Fireworks that have nothing to do with July 4th and everything to do with the cosmos are about to be seen in the northern United States and Europe just in time for Halloween.
On Thursday, the sun launched what is called an “X-class solar flare” which was strong enough to trigger a high-frequency radio outage in parts of South America. The energy from this eruption is dragged by a cluster of solar plasma and other material called coronal mass ejection, or CME for short, that heads toward Earth, prompting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to issue a warning about a potentially strong geomagnetic storm.
It may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie. But in reality, it just means that a good part of the north of the country may be entitled to a light show called the Northern Lights, or Northern Lights.
Geomagnetic thunderstorms as large as what could happen can produce displays of lights that can be seen at latitudes as low as Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Iowa. It could also cause voltage irregularities on high latitude power grids, such as loss of radio contact on the sunny side of the planet.