Saturday, July 20, 2024

Can I see the northern lights this weekend? Robust photo voltaic storm may disrupt communications and produce auroras within the US


CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida — An unusually robust photo voltaic storm hitting Earth may produce the northern lights within the US this weekend and doubtlessly disrupt energy and communications.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued an unusually extreme geomagnetic storm warning when a photo voltaic outburst reached Earth on Friday afternoon, hours sooner than anticipated. The results will final by the weekend and probably into subsequent week.

NOAA has alerted operators of energy vegetation and spacecraft in orbit to take precautions, as has the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“For most individuals on planet Earth, they don’t have anything to do,” stated Rob Steenburgh, a scientist at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

The storm will produce northern lights as far south as Alabama and Northern California, in accordance with NOAA. But it’s troublesome to foretell and consultants emphasize that these will not be the dramatic curtains of shade normally related to the northern lights, however extra like splashes of inexperienced shade.

“That’s the present from the house age — the aurora,” Steenburgh stated. He and his colleagues stated the most effective view of the aurora could be from telephone cameras, that are higher at selecting up mild than the bare eye.

SEE PREVIOUS REPORT: Could a photo voltaic storm this week trigger expertise disruption? NOAA skilled explains

Take an image of the sky and “there is perhaps a pleasant little deal with there for you,” says Mike Bettwy, chief of operations on the forecast middle.

The strongest photo voltaic storm in recorded historical past, in 1859, triggered auroras in Central America and probably even Hawaii. “We’re not anticipating that” however it may very well be imminent, stated NOAA house climate forecaster Shawn Dahl.

This storm – ranked 5 on a scale of 1 to five – poses a danger to high-voltage transmission traces for energy grids, not the ability traces usually present in properties of individuals, Dahl informed reporters. Satellites may additionally be affected, doubtlessly disrupting navigation and communications providers on Earth.

A extreme geomagnetic storm in 2003, for instance, knocked out energy in Sweden and broken energy transformers in South Africa.

Even after the storm is over, alerts between GPS satellites and receivers on the bottom could be scrambled or misplaced, in accordance with NOAA. But there are such a lot of navigation satellites that any outages should not final lengthy, Steenburgh stated.

The solar has been producing highly effective photo voltaic flares since Wednesday, leading to at the very least seven plasma explosions. Each explosion – referred to as a coronal mass ejection – can include billions of tons of plasma and magnetic fields from the solar’s outer ambiance, or corona.

The flares seem like related to a sunspot 16 occasions the diameter of Earth, in accordance with NOAA. It’s all a part of photo voltaic exercise that builds up because the solar approaches the height of its 11-year cycle.

NASA stated the storm posed no severe menace to the seven astronauts aboard the International Space Station. The greatest concern is rising radiation ranges, and the crew may transfer to a extra shielded a part of the station if mandatory, in accordance with Steenburgh.

The additional radiation may additionally threaten a few of NASA’s science satellites. The extra delicate devices can be turned off, if mandatory, to keep away from injury, stated Antti Pulkkinen, director of the house company’s heliophysics science division.

Several sun-pointing spacecraft are monitoring all of the motion.

“These are precisely the sorts of issues we wish to observe,” Pulkkinen stated.

Copyright © 2024 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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