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Aurora borealis possible at mid-latitudes by week’s end from X-class solar flare

Multiple sources reporting, The Examiner saying:  “Two coronal mass ejections (CME’s) from the sun during the last two days will have skywatchers and astronomers looking for the aurora by week’s end. According to experts, the earth-directed nature and magnitude of the solar flares will leave a good chance of the aurora borealis becoming visible across the northern-tier of the United States, weather dependent of course.

At 1:45pm today, an X-Class flare occurred from the surface of the sun. X-Class flares are the strongest type of solar flares. This comes after an M Class flare on Tuesday. Both have originated from active sunspot region AR2158.

The Space Weather Prediction Center suggests that the solar energy from these flares will arrive on Friday, and the resulting geomagnetic storm will be moderate (G2) on a scale from G1 to G5. G1 is a minor storm and G5 is considered extreme. Space weather models currently predict that the aurora could extend well into the mid-latitudes, across the northern-tier of the United States, from this storm.

In addition, as this latest X-class solar flare races toward Earth, it leaves much of North America at risk for prolonged radio blackouts. Radio blackouts primarily affect High Frequency (HF) (3-30 MHz) communication, although fading and diminished reception may spill over to Very High Frequency (VHF) (30-300 MHz) and higher frequencies. These effects occur on the sunlit side of the Earth and are most intense at locations where the Sun is directly overhead.

It is always somewhat uncertain on how exactly these solar flares will impact the earth’s atmosphere, but X-Class flares have historically produced some of the brightest auroras on record, especially when they are earth-directed. Further analysis is underway by experts at the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center on the timing of the arrival, the impacts in regards to the high frequency radio blackouts, and the potential aurora extent.”

Royce Christyn
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