‘Extreme’ geomagnetic storm may bless us with more aurora displays tonight and tomorrow

The strongest geomagnetic storm in 20 years forced the colorful northern lights, or aurora borealis, to appear across the United States on Friday night, even in areas that are usually too far away to see them. And the show may not be over. If there are clear skies tonight, it may offer another chance to catch the aurora NOAAand Sunday could bring more demonstrations stretching as far as Alabama.

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center said the sun continued to produce powerful solar flares on Saturday. It’s on top of that observed before coronal mass ejections (CMEs) or blasts of magnetized plasma that won’t reach Earth until tomorrow. The agency has been monitoring the particularly active sunspot cluster since Wednesday and yesterday confirmed that G5 conditions – a level defined as “extreme” – had not been seen since October 2003. In a press release Friday, Clinton Wallace, director of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, said the current storm was an “unusual and potentially historic event.”

Geomagnetic storms occur when blasts from the sun interact with Earth’s magnetosphere. Although the whole thing has a kind of scary ring to it, there is nothing for the people on the ground to worry about. whom NASA X explained that “harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through the Earth’s atmosphere” to affect us physically. These storms can interfere with our technology and have been known to disrupt communications, GPS, satellite operations, and even the power grid.

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