A solar storm impacted Earth, resulting in a spectacular light show seen as far south as New York.
A large solar flare, or coronal mass ejection (CME), was spotted on the sun’s Earth-facing side on Saturday, October 9th, and the flare slammed into our planet yesterday 11th October. This occurs as Earth enters a time of enhanced solar activity known as the solar maximum (solar activity increases and decreases about every 11 years.) According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the storm will be a category G2 event, which means it will be moderately strong (NOAA).
Solar storms of this magnitude can destroy satellites in orbit around Earth, as well as erupting from the sun and the electricity infrastructures. They can, however, produce a stunning aurora, a natural light show seen only between the north and south poles at high altitudes. As per NOAA, the storm was strong enough to be visible as far south as New York and as far north as Washington and Wisconsin state.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a geomagnetic storm watch that has been prolonged until Tuesday 12th October. According to NOAA, the moderate storm might create satellite orientation inconsistencies, power grid fluctuations, and other problems. On Tuesday, the dangers were mostly related to potential power grid oscillations.
As the storm’s effects remain, auroras may be visible Tuesday night at high latitudes, such as Canada and Alaska, according to NOAA. Sky watchers in other parts of the country who were lucky enough to view the aurora yesterday may have been in for a treat, especially in locations like New York, where auroras are rarely seen. On October 11, photographer Randy Halverson of South Dakota, United States, captured a spectacular view of the aurora.
Highlights on some common space activities
Solar storms like this are typical space weather phenomena since the sun generates CMEs from its atmosphere daily. CMEs are made up of electrically charged plasma that flows outwards after the sun shoots it out, potentially affecting the Earth’s magnetic shield.
When charged particles collide with our planet’s barrier, they travel toward the poles, releasing energy as colorful light.