NK - OT - Look Up! See Aurora Lights Tonight

Fitzmorgan at cs.com Fitzmorgan at cs.com
Thu Jul 13 17:03:19 PDT 2000

Look Up! See Aurora Lights Tonight
Go outside tonight and look up! Even if you live in the southern United 
States, you might catch a glimpse of the blue-green aurora lights in the 
night sky Thursday and Friday nights. The best viewing time will be midnight 
local time. A massive solar flare--called an X-class flare--erupted on 
Wednesday at 6:37 a.m. EDT, and more flares could be on the way. While the 
flares can cause some radio blackouts, they can also create aurora lights 
that reach the mid-latitudes, including the southern United States. Why? Also 
detected were two coronal mass ejections--huge clouds of electrified gas. The 
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, which predicts the 
effects of solar eruptions, said there was a 40 percent chance that the mass 
ejections would trigger a disruption of the Earth's magnetic field by Friday. 
It's this disruption that could cause the aurora lights to show up in the 
mid-latitudes. Aurora lights are common in the far northern and southern 
latitudes, but not the middle ones. The coronal mass ejection sent a bubble 
of plasma, or electrified gas, toward the Earth at more than 2 million miles 
an hour. The first shock wave of this fast-moving mass is expected to crash 
into the Earth's magnetosphere, the magnetic field that surrounds the planet, 
on Thursday. Material from a second, more powerful ejection is expected on 
Friday. Good news: There are no health risks from these ejections. --Cathryn 

More information about the Northkeep mailing list