Aurora Alert! Solar Storm Reaches Earth

Article written: 3 Aug , 2010
Updated: 26 Apr , 2016

Finally, some excitement from the Sun! On August 1, 2010, the entire Earth-facing side of the sun erupted with all sorts of activity. There was a C3-class solar flare, a solar tsunami, multiple filaments of magnetism lifting off the stellar surface, large-scale shaking of the solar corona, radio bursts, a coronal mass ejection (CME) and more. (Watch the movie from the Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft for all the action!) As I write this, the solar storm is beginning to reach Earth with one, and possibly two CMEs, according to You can actually watch realtime data coming in from two of the GOES satellites at this link from NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, which measures proton flux in the space environment around Earth. The page refreshes every 5 minutes.

NOAA forecasters are estimating a 10% chance of major geomagnetic storms and a 45% chance of at least some geomagnetic activity when the clouds arrive on August 3rd and 4th, so those of you in the northern latitudes should be on the lookout for aurora on both August 3 and 4.

Readers, anyone who captures aurorae images, send them in to Nancy

This has been an unusually quiet solar cycle. We are heading towards a solar max in three years which is on track to be just over half as intense as the last one in 2001, and the lowest in over 100 years.
To keep tabs on the Sun’s activity, check out the latest data, movies and images from the SDO website.

Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

4 Responses

  1. Member
    Aqua says

    Whoomp! INCOMING! Well HELLO Mr. Sol! Here in middle northern Californicator we’ve seen aurora’s twice in the 15 years I’ve lived here. The best of the two was about 10+ years ago? We saw rapidly moving red and bluish fan shapes crossing the night sky while the red colored horizon looked as though there was a major forest fire nearby!? YIKES! I’ll be looking, but with the dense fog/marine layer we’ve been having most nights this summah… odds aren’t all that good even if it does come this far south? Hmm… maybe I’ll take a chance and trek on up the mountain (USUALLY above the fog) if the SOHO index indicates?

  2. Torbjorn Larsson OM says

    “The sensor array “measures proton flux in the space environment”, Kaptin!”

    “Thanks, mr Chekov. Mr Sulu, raise shields!”

    Sun Trek, the longest ongoing series we would like to know about.

  3. Lawrence B. Crowell says

    There are some space issues with this. The ionized gas or particles could push the geo-magnetipause close and expose geo-synch satellites to this directly. That could damage electronics. We might want to have those StarTrek shields.


  4. Jon Hanford says

    This being austral winter, I would think personnel stationed in Antarctica would be looking forward to a keen display of the aurora australis.

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