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Skywatchers in northern Europe are already seeing some aurora activity as a strong-to-severe geomagnetic storm is in progress, according to the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center and SpaceWeather.com. The fuel for this storm was a coronal mass ejection over the weekend that has now reached Earth. This is great news for skywatchers, as both the Northern and Southern lights should be spectacular. But this is not so good news for satellite companies. The Goddard Space Weather Lab reports a “strong compression of Earth’s magnetosphere. Simulations indicate that solar wind plasma [has penetrated] close to geosynchronous orbit starting at 13:00 UT.” Geosynchronous satellites could therefore be directly exposed to solar wind plasma and magnetic fields.
The active region on the Sun will be pointed straight at Earth in few days as the Sun rotates, so this could be a week of high auroral activity. If you are able to capture images, send the to Universe Today via email or upload them to our Flickr page, and we’ll share them! See an image below of the Sun from September 25, 2011, showing the Active Region 1302, courtesy of John Chumack.
For more information and updates see the links above, or the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.