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Posted at 02:52 PM ET, 09/28/2011

Solar storm smashes into Earth, stunning aurora at high latitudes

Did you know the high latitudes experienced a severe geomagnetic storm Monday which still lingers? At the mid-latitudes, the storm was moderate, but powerful enough for aurora to be seen as far south as New York state.

Watch this NOAA model simulation of the passage of the coronal mass ejection (CME), the massive burst of solar wind :

Here’s NOAA description of what you’re seeing:

[The model] shows a view from above the north poles of the Sun and Earth, with the Sun shown as a yellow circle and the Earth as a green circle. The animation shows where density is high (as in the CME) in the colors of red, white and black, and where density is low (as in the background solar wind) in colors of blue and green. The CME is the curved, high density structure that transits from the Sun to the Earth. From the animation, it is clear we missed the center of the CME.

No major impacts have been reported from this solar storm such as disruption in satellite communications or damage to the electrical grid. But spectacular aurora have been viewed, especially at higher latitudes.

The United Kingdom’s (UK) Daily Mail writes today:

A sunspot 62,000 miles across - ten times bigger than Earth - is releasing gigantic solar flares that have created astonishing light shows over Britain, described by one sky-watcher as the best he’d ever seen.

Here are some links to some great aurora photos:

Marquette, Michigan (9/28)

Thunder Bay, Ontario (9/28)

Mexico, New York (9/27)

Penn Yan, New York (9/26)

Clear Water Lake, Minnesota (9/26)

UK images from 9/26

Related: Space weather: Are we ready for a solar strike? and Understanding space weather forecasts and the risk of solar storms

By  |  02:52 PM ET, 09/28/2011

Categories:  Astronomy, Latest, Space

 
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