Active region 2741 (right) has been the seat of exciting magnetic activity in recent days which could bring aurora to our skies on May 15 and 16. This photo was taken at 12:30 p.m. CDT today. NASA / SDO
I sure wish I’d been up at 3 o’clock this morning. That’s when a surprise aurora hit. In a very short time, conditions went from a minor G1 storm to a strong G3. For several hours until around 6:30 a.m. CDT, the storm would have been visible (before twilight grew too bright) across the northern third of the U.S. Things have quieted down now, but more is on the way.
A loop of hot hydrogen gas called a prominence hovers over the edge of the sun. When seen in silhouette against the sun (see below), a prominence is called a filament. NASA / SDO
Multiple coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the region around sunspot group 2741 on May 10, 12 and 13 are headed in Earth’s direction as you read this. The pileup should arrive over the next two days — May 15 and 16 — and produce minor to moderate (G1-G2) geomagnetic storms. CMEs are clouds of protons and electrons ...