GEOMAGNETIC STORM UPDATE: Earth’s magnetic field is recovering from a jarring CME impact during the late hours of Sept. 7th (23:00 UT). First contact with the CME produced a severe G4-class geomagnetic storm. That storm has subsided, but more storms are in the offing. The solar wind around our planet is blowing like a veritable gale (700+ km/s) as we move through the CME’s wake. Periods of mild to strong geomagnetic storming are likely on Sept. 8th and 9th. Free: Aurora Alerts
CME IMPACT SPARKS AURORAS, STOPS TRAFFIC: The debris from Wednesday’s monster X9-class solar flare reached Earth last night–and its impact was everything forecasters expected. A severe G4-class geomagnetic storm commenced, sparking auroras over Scandinavia so bright they actually stopped traffic. “I was driving home when the CME hit,” reports Jani Ylinampa of Rovaniemi, Finland. “It was such an amazing display, I really had to pull over and shoot some photos.”
If you still have your solar viewing glasses from the eclipse, now is a good time to slap them on and look up at the sun. You’ll see two big dark areas visible on our star. These massive sunspots are regions of intense and complicated magnetic fields that can produce solar flares—bursts of high-energy radiation. You can just make them out with solar viewing glasses, but they’re better viewed through a solar telescope.
These two huge sunspots are currently causing quite a bit of consternation and interest. The solar storms they’ve sent toward Earth may affect communications and other technologies like GPS and radio signals. They’re causing amazing displays of the Northern and Southern Lights. And space weather scientists like us are excited because we wouldn’t normally expect this much activity from the sun at the moment.
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