08 March 2012

Northern Lights Visible Possibly as Far South as NYC, Michigan, and Oregon . . .

The massive solar storms currently bombarding the earth with charged particles (@ 4 million mph!) are the largest in over five years, driven by a double solar flare. This phenomenon could bring the beauty of the Aurora Borealis to places it's rarely seen early this morning and heading-on-in to Thursday night...

What we have is the Sun belching-out a cloud of gas (twice) who's strong electrical charges will temporarily warp the Earth's own magnetic field as it gets here... which is now. They also play havoc with elements like Nitrogen in our upper-atmosphere, and thus the auroras are produced.

But as we wait for the Northern Lights to put on a show, such a wave of powerful matter can also have far less entertaining effects, for example in 1972 the state of Illinois had most long-distance telephone communications wiped-out by a solar flare... and this one's a double. Other worries include GPS/satellite communications and power grids.

The Sun is now in the midst of a cycle of increased solar storm activity, expected to peak over the next twelve months- thus providing perhaps additional rare opportunities over the coming months to witness the astonishing Aurora Borealis without having to travel to the Arctic.

How to tell if the show is nearing your area? The Canadian Space Science Data Portal has a active 'Auroral Oval' map that tracks Northern Lights aurora activity in real-time -here-

NOAA has a North American visibility predictor map based on intensity rating of the solar storm -here-, others -here-

And here's a closer look at the culprit this time -care of NASA time-lapse photography- an unusual double solar flare that began erupting last month: