Changing Planet

Solar Storm Hits Earth

After a weekend filled with great auroral activity in Northern Canada and Scandinavia (Norway video) thanks to a strong gust of solar wind coming off the Sun Jan.19th, the Earth is about to get hit again -by the biggest blast of solar radiation in 7 years. Talk about a one-two punch on the cosmic scale!

Late last night (Jan.22) at around 11 pm ET a giant, long lasting, solar flare erupted off the face of the Sun, sending a giant Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) – cloud of plasma and charged particles – squarely towards the Earth.  Detected by NASA’s sun-monitoring satellites SOHO and STEREO, the solar blast was determined to be an M9 on the Richter scale of solar flares – just shy of an X- class flare which is ranked as the most powerful. Space weather forecasters at NOAA – who keep watch for any hazardous, incoming solar storms – are expecting the brunt of the CME to slam into Earth’s magnetic field Jan.24 around 9 am EST ( 2 pm UT)   +/- 7 hours.

And Earth is not the only planet in its cross-hairs. Mars will get walloped too when the CME arrives there on Jan.25th.

Already the front of the storm is now being felt as space radiation (energized protons) speeds by Earth, states the Spaceweather.com website. The high influx of charged particles hitting the magnetic field poses a hazard to everything from GPS signals, polar radio communications, power grids  and circuit boards on orbiting satellites.

What does this mean for chances of seeing Northern Lights? If the geomagnetic storm becomes moderate to strong then auroras may creep down to southern latitudes like Texas and Georgia -but that’s pretty rare. Exactly how intense and widespread the sky show will be depends on how our planet’s magnetic field is oriented at the time when the storm arrives.

Best time to go outside will be between local midnight and pre-dawn hours. Face the northern sky and look for green or red glows to start near the horizon. Catching auroras with your camera is not hard. All you need to have is a tripod mounted DSLR camera with a wide angle lens, capable of taking exposures of up to 20 seconds with a timer.

As usual there are still too many unknowns to forecast reliably who, where, and when exactly will get a sky show when it comes to aurora, but one thing is for sure – you have to go outside and look up to even have a chance.

 

Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share his passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the national cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, space columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant for the Canadian Space Agency. As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Andrew has been observing the heavens from Montreal for over a quarter century and has never met a clear night sky he didn’t like.

Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share his passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the national cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, space columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant for the Canadian Space Agency. As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Andrew has been observing the heavens from Montreal for over a quarter century and has never met a clear night sky he didn’t like.
  • […] NASA officials say. The sun eruption triggered the most powerful radiation storm since …Solar Storm Hits EarthNational GeographicSolar weather sparks super sightsmsnbc.comPlanes expected to reroute following […]

  • […] NASA officials say. The sun eruption triggered the most powerful radiation storm since …Solar Storm Hits EarthNational GeographicSolar weather sparks super sightsmsnbc.comPlanes expected to reroute following […]

  • Riel

    Question: Any chance we’d be able to see the Aurora from as far South Asia as the Philippines? Thanks. 😀

    • Unfortunately the Philippines are too low in latitude for aurora to reach.

  • Audrey

    And what about the south hemisfere?
    Could we see something?

    Tks

    • The Southern Hemisphere equivalent are the Southern Lights, or Aurora Australis which are really only visible in high latitudes like the most southern parts of South America, Australia and of course Antarctica.

  • […] After a weekend filled with great auroral activity in Northern Canada and Scandinavia, thanks to a strong gust of solar wind coming off the Sun, the Earth is about to get hit again -by the biggest blast of solar radiation in 7 years. http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/… […]

  • Maria

    What about Wash., D.C.? Dare I hope?

  • Cassaundra Drake

    Will it be visible from somewhere like Maryland?! I really hope so…

  • […] – it looks like we will be hit with a Solar Storm in the next day or so. According to NASA and NatGeo – we might be able to see the Northern […]

  • Nadine

    Should we unplug all computers televisions and other things

    • The power grids at the source would be knocked out, if the geomagnetic storm is strong enough. But not likely with this one.

  • Gareth

    So we’ll see this in Southern New Zealand too? Can’t wait.

  • Josie Pease

    Will it be possible to see the aurora borealis in Maine? I really hope so.

  • Kevin Crosby

    Cool picture shows the power of the sun. Will I be able to see this in Nova Scotia.

  • Rina

    Would tonight be a good time to watch out for the Northern Lights in Calgary (Jan 23 10pm-Jan 24 2am)? Thanks!

  • Greg

    How far south will they be? Can I expect to see them on long island or southern new England?

  • Jessica

    So would we be able to view it from North Georgia in the USA?

    • Forecasts that I can see are showing chances are not there for auroras that far south

  • roger benz

    will southern ontario hamilton area see anything hope fully? Is there any dangers

  • Kelly

    Can this be dangerous to humans in anyway?

  • francesca

    what about us in the UK. can we see anything? how blessed we would be if we could

  • Strong Solar Radiation at storm level S3 now. Check out this great NOAA chart for an explanation of what this means:

    http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/NOAAscales/index.html#SolarRadiationStorms

  • aditya james

    Would this be visible in Delhi, India ???

  • Kallee

    Do you think there is any chance I could see the Aurora from Seattle? I’ve never seen one before, so I don’t really know if it’s possible for this area? Thank you 🙂

    • predictions are that there is a small chance that storming levels may put auroras as far south as Seattle. Pending clear skies of course, best chance is to look towards the north horizon in the hours before local dawn. And of course less light pollution is better.

  • Stuart

    My Cairn Terrier , who goes into nervous shaking over noises such as the smoke detector, suddenly went into heavy trembling for 15 minutes at about 9:30 AM today. I couldn’t find the reason, and now suspect the arriving solar wave blast to be perceptible to him.

  • //outdoordecklightings.com/

    very dangerous

  • Can you see auroras tomorrow? NOAA expects aurora boundary to be down to about 52 degrees magnetic latitude.

    Go to the NOAA webpage enter your city and find out if you are at or above 52 magnetic latitude: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/Aurora/

  • […] from speedy solar flare Sunday night already bombarding Earth …Washington PostNational Geographic -San Francisco Chronicle -Patch.comall 592 news […]

  • seth

    Can it be seen in the caribbean e.g. Barbados or Trinidad?

  • Kathy Aller

    I hope that we can see the Aurora down this way. We saw the ones back in 2005 here. They were magnificent. I could only hope that the same would be true of this one.

  • JOhn

    I remember when the lights went out in Quebec in 1989 due to a solar storm. It was the middle of the night and the sky was bright orange.

  • Nothing forecast for that far south.

  • Sandy Pahl

    100 miles S of the Mackinaw Bridge…. if we might be able to see, is it tonight we should look or tomorrow night?

  • Katherine Wormull-Hamilton

    will it be visible in Indianapolis,In.and if so at what time?

  • Allana

    I thought solar storms are supposed to be very dangerous 😐

  • brandon

    will the radio stations go out and if so for how long ?

  • Katherine Wormull-Hamilton

    Can it be seeing in Indianapolis,Indiana.USA.?

  • Leah

    Could this be what is responsible for the strange noises heard world wide ??

  • Carlos, Eduardo Castillo

    Can we see it in New York City, if so at what time I’m so exicted i never seen a northern light

  • […] Check out the inferred image below of the sun to also see the eruption. For more on the storms and the threat of radiation, check out our friends at [NatGeo] […]

  • Sage

    is this happening in Pa because im scared and i wanna know if it will affect us in Pa . please respond !

  • George B

    What time does this happen and does this happen in california?

  • Jim

    Great article!!!How about michigan?

  • Joel

    So exciting! How about Boston? I noticed that we’re at a 51.7 magnetic latitude

  • jobelle Bautista

    is there any way or even a little chance we can see the aurora here in the philippines? 🙂

  • sandra

    ay chances on residents of East Tennessee getting to view the northern lights?

  • […] Radiation StormSpace.comSolar StormCleveland News – Fox 8Fox News -Washington Post -National Geographicall 604 news […]

  • ganesan.m

    if we get any problem because of this problem?

  • Stephanie

    My sister told me about this. I live in Northern California. will this be harmful for humans? Is it dangerious?

  • Uncle Chuckster

    I hope it knocks “American Idol” and Dancing with the Stars” off the air forever.

  • Jerume Estillero

    I’ve been researching with this one since 2011… and i concluded that this might happen… i didnt tell to anyone because im afraid that my calculations was wrong… but here it is…. the most thing im afraid of is its force/power…
    i dont have any equipment to observe the coming wave (EMP)
    but ……… Can it penetrate the earths crust? or maybe just a lil.. but that lil word can cause a serious damage right? im really afraid of this..

  • Katy

    i need pictures!!!!

  • Johan Rasmus Steenberg

    Do you think we’ll be able to see it in South Africa or is it too far south? Really hope so never seen it before

  • […] National Geographic […]

  • Geo

    What about aalborg? i´m not sure about the time… 4:00pm? or midnight, i cant belive this!!! =>

  • A Smit

    What about South Africa?

  • yolandi

    where will it hit worst. some say in cape town. is that true?

  • Tahlia

    I’m guessing there is no chance at all to see auroras in south quebec like Sherbrooke or Montreal?!

  • […] posted here: Solar Storm Hits Earth – News Watch .gplus #___plusone_0, .gplus #___plusone_1,.gplus #___plusone_2, .gplus #___plusone_3, […]

  • gloria rogers

    sat morning at sunrise I saw the most beautiful red, gold, like molten metal across 3/4 of our sky, a person I know in the MO. USA saw a red sky that was very unusual to him also.. Could all of this be because of the flare ?

  • Nelda

    Our Sun is such a powerful force and it makes me wonder the affects that this solar radiation could have on us. Yes, the Aurora will undoubtedly be beautiful but, some of the most dangerous things are beautiful, are they not?

  • Brittany

    Will we be able to see it in Kentucky?

  • Sherri

    It is the 24th of January- will we see them in CT tonight or tomorrow? Tommoorw is my birthday- what a candle!!

  • Geoff

    Dude!! Post a pic of the earth with the projected aurora zone highlighted so people can see for themselves whether or not their town will see this phenomena.

  • Melinda

    Is it possible to be here at namibia

  • puculwa solwandle

    How visible will it be in South Africa?

  • daniel ramirez

    dudo realmente ver una aurora boreal desde el punto en el que me encuentro, pero sera posible ?

  • Chris

    I’m in Montreal today, and saw that’s where you were from. Where on Mont-Royal would be the best place to look for the lights, and what time? Or would you recommend a better place to view this from?

  • Debbie Di

    Does this kind of sun activity have any affect on wildlife? My backyard bird feeders are very quite today. I haven’t seen birds at all — which is extremely unusual for this time of year.

  • Chris

    Where in Montreal, or nearby would be a good place to view this from?

  • Emily Stuart

    Is there any chance that the lights will be visible in central Maine tonight? If so, when would be the best time to look? Thanks!

  • Virginia Ojeda

    This is very scary news! So I am guessing most of the northern part of the United States will be effected and the bottom half won’t?

  • Emily Stuart

    Is there any chance that the lights will be visible from central Maine? If so, when would be the best time to look for them? Thanks!

  • dina

    aside from Auroras, what are the expected effects on radio reception,on electronic appliances, and people’s health ?

  • Rajendra

    I am living in Brampton, Ontario. This city is near Toronto. Can I see Northern Lights from here?

  • […] is currently weathering the largest solar storm recorded in more than eight years, thanks to a giant wave of charged particles from the sun that […]

  • […] is currently weathering the largest solar storm recorded in more than eight years, thanks to a giant wave of charged particles from the sun that […]

  • Mdeepaksri

    When ìt wìll happen??? Did any1 seen that on 23rd of jan???
    Catch me in face book as Deepak Sri

  • cristy

    does this solar storm has an effect on living things especially humans?

  • James

    After a solar storm, when and how are electronic systems recoverd from that interruption? Are satellites exposed to a high risk to this radiations?
    Its sayd that 2012 will have more solar storms.

  • […] is currently weathering the largest solar storm recorded in more than eight years, thanks to a giant wave of charged particles from the sun that […]

  • somebody

    will d world end this year??? if yes or no y????

  • Rochel

    is it harmful to us?how it can affect to us in our daily routine?

  • nonsstop

    This is serious lol… screw the show of the lights! This has been known 4 2+ yrs by nasa and scientists! Ppl need to be aware asap! Go to the nasa site, and see real time incoming data. Think about it… its supposed 2 be 80° today lol a day ago the high was 50° So. Cal. We could face an Amish style way of life soon…

  • zoey

    could i see this light thing of the sun in chicago, the windy city??/
    pleasde comment back:

  • A random person

    Could this send molten metals in to the atmosphere, causing the wird groaning being heard around earth. The metals could be changing shape with the magnetosphere.

  • […] It’s been an incredible week for space weather, thanks to a nasty sunspot that hurled a cloud of superheated gas and charged particles toward the Earth. […]

  • […] planets is recovering from the largest solar storm recorded in more than eight years, thanks to a giant wave of charged particles from the sun that […]

  • IRON MAN

    its the 26 of january and im still alive so i guess it dos not kill humans or penguins or somthing so YAY!!! i really like the picture its so beautiful even tho its scared ppl to death 😉 jk THE POWER OF THE SUN!!!!

  • Gregory Windrum

    Actually I think it’s great an amazing force of intergalactic nature time to take the rich mans money to develope the technology for the future .
    Keep our planet safe.

  • Mauricio Rivera

    The storm’s already gone. It was only here on the 24th.

  • ritafay2012

    will this be the worst year ever????..Birds are falling dead around here and people are getting sick and not getting well..???:/

  • ritafay2012

    The air is thick!!!!

  • […] is currently weathering the largest solar storm recorded in more than eight years, thanks to a giant wave of charged particles from the sun that […]

  • anoop

    is it dangerous to us

  • gary

    i remembered the movie “The Knowing”, starred by Nicolas Cage. Its about a huge solar storm that destructs earth.

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