Aurora Visible from Pennsylvania to Oregon

On Monday, the Sun expelled a huge eruption of plasma and magnetically charged particles. Called coronal mass ejection, it is currently speeding towards Earth. The coronal mass ejection likely arrived on Earth by late Wednesday, which usually results in mild geomagnetic storm. It can worsen if it hits Earth’s magnetic field at a certain angle.

As a result, the National Weather Service has issued a geomagnetic storm watch effective through Friday, with warnings of potentially strong storm on Thursday; people can expect issues with power grids, GPS, and radio communications.

However, one positive side to this strong storm is that the aurora borealis (glowing light usually visible at the poles due to the interaction of the Earth’s atmosphere with solar particles) may be seen further south than usual, possibly as low as Pennsylvania to Iowa and Oregon.

These disturbances will likely only be “minor nuisance” for modern day humans; however, the Sun is entering a new 11-year solar cycle, and stronger storms are highly possible.

NASA and European Space Agency are working to better predict the frequency and strength of solar storms to better prepare for these solar interruptions. On Earth, if there are clear dark skies anywhere north of the Pennsylvania-Iowa-Oregon line, people may get a glimpse of the beautiful aurora borealis just in time for Winter.

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