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posted by janrinok on Friday May 10, @06:41AM   Printer-friendly

Three of our community had sent in submissions regarding the solar storms expected to arrive over the weekend. Auroras, weather permitting, will be visible over much of the northern hemisphere. For those of you who like to see such things, or for those of you looking for something different to do, why not get outside and take a look:

Updated flare status

For the first time since October 2003, G5 conditions have been observed. This is described as an extreme geomagnetic storm and is the highest level on NOAA's scale for geomagnetic storms. In addition to reaching G5 conditions, an S2-level solar radiation storm was observed today, and HF radio blackouts at the R3-level have occurred multiple times.

If you're hoping to see auroras, NOAA provides real-time short-range ~30-60 minute forecasts of auroral activity in both the northern and southern hemispheres. There is also a separate dashboard for monitoring disruptions to HF radio.

Solar storms incoming this weekend

Earth prepares for solar storm impact from three CMEs this weekend

Solar activity has reached high levels in the past 24-36 hours, with background flux at or near M1.0. The most significant developments from the Sun include the growth and merging of Regions 3664 and 3668, as well as the production of numerous M-class solar flares and two X-class solar flares from CMEs that are expected to arrive at Earth this weekend.

A particularly volatile sunspot has sent a series of solar storms surging toward the Earth, many of which are due to hit in the next few days.

Sunspot AR3663 released five plumes of solar plasma—coronal mass ejections, or CMEs—in the past day, with the second, third, and fifth being forecast to slam directly into our planet this weekend.

This could lead to "strong" geomagnetic storms in our magnetic field and atmosphere, which could result in auroras being seen as far south as Illinois and Oregon.

auroras incoming!

Auroras will be visible from much of the Northern Hemisphere tonight through Saturday night!

NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center Issues Rare G4 Watch for Incoming CME

NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has issued a rare G4 watch for incoming coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that are expected to arrive as early as 18-21 UTC on Friday. NOAA's scale for geomagnetic storms is based on the planetary K-index, and goes as high as G5. The K-index is a measure of horizontal disturbances in Earth's magnetic field caused by the interaction of the CME with Earth's magnetosphere, and is estimated from observations collected by many ground-based magnetometers.

Although G4 conditions occurred as recently as March 23 of this year, the SWPC has not forecasted G4 conditions since January 2005. The most recent time G5 conditions were reached was during the 2003 Halloween solar storms. In a G4 geomagnetic storm, auroras may be visible at geomagnetic latitudes as low as 45°.

A large cluster of sunspots ejected several CMEs which have merged during their approach to Earth. The incoming geomagnetic storm is currently forecasted to be most severe from 03-12 UTC on Saturday, with the highest planetary K-index expected to be 8.33. Another CME is expected to start impacting Earth around 15 UTC on Saturday, with the geomagnetic storm peaking at G2 conditions between 03-06 UTC on Sunday.

If you'd like to monitor geomagnetic disturbances, there are guides for DIY projects (1, 2, and 3) where you can construct your own magnetometer capable of measuring nanoTesla-scale variations in the magnetic field to monitor for auroras.

Original Submission #1Original Submission #2Original Submission #3Original Submission #4

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  • (Score: 3, Funny) by Thexalon on Friday May 10, @11:46AM (1 child)

    by Thexalon (636) on Friday May 10, @11:46AM (#1356433)

    "Oh, yes, solar storm, I should make sure to go outside and look up in the sky!"
    "Yay, more clouds!"

    The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by OrugTor on Friday May 10, @04:44PM

      by OrugTor (5147) on Friday May 10, @04:44PM (#1356459)

      They should name highly active sunspots like they do storms. Much easier to remember Sunspot Shirley than AR3663.

  • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Friday May 10, @07:50PM

    by acid andy (1683) on Friday May 10, @07:50PM (#1356481) Homepage Journal

    If we ever get another Carrington level storm [] do you think we can finally say bye bye to the likes of Farcebook, Instasham, WhatsCrap, SickTock, Ex-Twatter and so on?

    I will be looking out for auroras in any case.

    If a cat has kittens, does a rat have rittens, a bat bittens and a mat mittens?
  • (Score: 2) by acid andy on Friday May 10, @10:40PM (1 child)

    by acid andy (1683) on Friday May 10, @10:40PM (#1356495) Homepage Journal

    I've seen some auroras just now. Beautiful long bands of light radiating out from a point. I might be tempted to share some of our long exposure photos later; they're really bringing out the colors. I think this could be a once in a lifetime experience. Thank you, Nature.

    If a cat has kittens, does a rat have rittens, a bat bittens and a mat mittens?
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by janrinok on Saturday May 11, @12:58AM

    by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 11, @12:58AM (#1356508) Journal

    I have seen the 'Northern Lights' several times from much higher latitudes in the past, but between 00:34 and 00:51 UTC I have just observed auroras from France for the first time. Not as vivid as I had hoped but certainly visible and distinct, looking northwards from my home. I might give it another try later through the night.

    I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
  • (Score: 2) by corey on Saturday May 11, @11:25AM (1 child)

    by corey (2202) on Saturday May 11, @11:25AM (#1356539)

    It’s been cloudy and rainy here the past two days. I’ve been receiving the emails from the Bureau of Meteorology advising of the CMEs too. Sob.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by corey on Saturday May 11, @09:26PM

      by corey (2202) on Saturday May 11, @09:26PM (#1356583)

      Actually last night i went out to check the clouds and it had cleared. Half my sky was pink and had some definite features appearing. Insanely good, I’m a bit of a sky gazer / amateur astronomer and it’s the first time I’ve ever seen aurorae. I’m rural but about 100km out from Melbourne (lat -37deg). Neighbour’s also picked up some nice photos.

      I will look into it but i thought the sun was entering an active period currently, from memory?

  • (Score: 2) by DadaDoofy on Sunday May 12, @11:26AM

    by DadaDoofy (23827) on Sunday May 12, @11:26AM (#1356643)

    For what it's worth... [] []

    "I need some new conspiracy theories. All the old ones turned out to be true."