A solar storm hits Earth this week, pushing 'Northern Lights' south

CNET | 3/21/2019 | Eric Mack
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After a prolonged quiet period, the sun let off an explosion Wednesday when a new sunspot fired a small solar flare lasting over an hour.

The high-energy blast caused disruptions for some radio operators in Europe and Africa, but it was accompanied by a slower-moving, massive cloud of charged particles known as a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) that will deliver Earth a glancing blow this weekend.

Particles - Earth - Field - Range - Intensity

All those particles colliding with Earth's magnetic field could turn up the range and the intensity of the aurora, also known as the Northern and Southern Lights. Aurora are caused by particles from the sun that are constantly flowing toward our planet, but a CME delivers an extra large helping that can really amp up the display.

In North America, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that the aurora borealis could be visible as far south as New York and Chicago on March 23, likely in the early morning hours.

NOAA - Aurora - Line - Morning - Hours

NOAA predicts that aurora could be visible as far south as the yellow line in the early morning hours Saturday.

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