Yesterday the sun released a burst of energy in the form of a Class X 1.5 Solar Flare; what’s more this flare is Earthbound.
It is projected to make contact with the Earth at any time within the next few days, with an accurate time-scale difficult to calculate.
The Class X 1.5 Solar Flare – 09/03/11 Credit: NASA, SDO
If the storm hits the Earth’s atmosphere during the hours of darkness, parts of the Northern Hemisphere could be treated to fantastic light shows, as the charged particles of the flare interact with the Earth’s magnetic field and upper atmosphere.
Power grid problems are not unforeseeable, with the surge in magnetic energy potentially causing small localised power outages due to overloading small transformers.
So if your power does get knocked out in the evening within the next few days, go outside and look up you never know you may be lucky and get to see amazing displays like the one below.
An example on an Aurora Credit: Joshua Strang, USAF, Wikipedia
Happy Aurorae Watching!
You can keep up to date with the latest information about the current size and strength of the Aurorae here.