November 27, 2021

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Northern lights could be ‘a great show’ in some states this weekend, thanks to geomagnetic storm – USA TODAY

2 min read
  • Geomagnetic storms on Earth can affect electrical grids, GPS navigation systems and radio and satellite telecommunications.
  • The storm is rated a “G3,” which is the third level of NOAA’s five-level geomagnetic storm scale.
  • Geomagnetic storms can deliver spectacular aurora here on Earth.

A spectacular aurora, also known as the northern lights, could be visible in some northern states this weekend as a “strong” geomagnetic storm is forecast for Earth. 

The storm is due to a significant solar flare and coronal mass ejection from the sun that occurred around 11:35 a.m. EDT on Thursday, Oct. 28, scientists from NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center announced on Friday.

The Space Weather Prediction Center notified power grid operators, satellite operators, airlines and other customers about potential impacts of a geomagnetic storm. “Geomagnetic storms on Earth can affect electrical grids, GPS navigation systems and radio and satellite telecommunications,” the Center said. 

The solar flare was the second most powerful eruption from the sun this year, according to Space.com.

The storm is rated a “G3,” which is the third level of NOAA’s five-level geomagnetic storm scale. (G1 storms are minor, while G5s are considered extreme.) The G3 storm watch is in effect here on Earth both Saturday and Sunday. 

Geomagnetic storms can deliver spectacular aurora on Earth. The aurora forecast for this geomagnetic storm includes the potential for 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 U.S. latitudes for aurora,” C. Alex Young of NASA told Space.com.

What’s a solar flare?:And how can a geomagnetic storm make auroras visible in the US?

These storms can heat the ionosphere – where Earth’s atmosphere meets space – causing the beautiful auroras here on Earth. 

A solar flare erupts from the sun at 11:35 a.m. EDT on October 28, 2021.

Hence, the northern lights can be visible to stargazers in some spots in the U.S and far northern parts of the world. The southern lights, which are known as the aurora australis, can also be visible in far southern parts of the world.

Impacts from this geomagnetic storm are expected to wane by early next week. 

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