Because of the geomagnetic storm, the northern lights could put on a “great show” in some states this weekend
A spectacular aurora, also known as the northern lights, may be visible in some northern states this weekend as Earth is expected to experience a “strong” geomagnetic storm.
The storm is the result of a significant solar flare and coronal mass ejection from the sun that occurred around 11:35 a.m. EDT on Thursday, Oct. 28, according to scientists from NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.
The Space Weather Prediction Center warned power grid operators, satellite operators, airlines, and other customers about the potential consequences of a geomagnetic storm. The Center stated that “geomagnetic storms on Earth can affect electrical grids, GPS navigation systems, and radio and satellite telecommunications.”
According to Space.com, the solar flare was the second most powerful eruption from the sun this year.
The storm is classified as a “G3,” the third level on NOAA’s five-level geomagnetic storm scale. (G1 storms are minor, whereas G5 storms are severe.) Both Saturday and Sunday, the G3 storm watch is in effect here on Earth.
Geomagnetic storms can cause spectacular aurora displays on Earth. This geomagnetic storm’s aurora forecast includes the possibility of aurora as far south as Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Oregon by Saturday night.
“This could be a great show for people in the mid-to-upper latitudes of the United States for aurora,” NASA’s C. Alex Young told Space.com.
What exactly is a solar flare, and how can a geomagnetic storm cause auroras to be visible in the United States?
These storms can heat the ionosphere, which is where the Earth’s atmosphere meets space, resulting in the beautiful auroras we see here on Earth.
As a result, stargazers in the United States and far northern parts of the world may be able to see the northern lights. The southern lights, also known as the aurora australis, can be seen in the world’s extreme south.
The effects of this geomagnetic storm are expected to subside by early next week.