Get ready for stormy weather. Zillions of sub-microscopic electrons and protons from a solar coronal hole are expected to impact Earth’s magnetic domain beginning sometime tomorrow afternoon. Space weather forecasters are calling for moderate storm conditions through about 10 p.m. (CDT) Saturday evening followed by a return to minor storm from 10 till 1 a.m. Based on the forecast, it sounds like the best time to look for northern lights would be during late twilight and early evening hours across the northern half of the U.S. and the southern half of Canada (too much daylight in the northern regions!)
With no moon in the sky, conditions should be ideal for aurora-watching: pleasant temperatures, three bright planets in view and a fabulous Milky Way in the eastern sky.
While we gear up for possible auroras, meteorite hunters are doing the same in hopes of finding meteorites from yesterday’s Arizona fireball. NASA confirmed that the meteoroid measured about 5 feet (1-2 meters) in diameter and weighed tens of tons; it broke apart in the atmosphere while plummeting at some 40,200 miles per hour (64,700 kph). Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center believes that based on Doppler weather radar, it’s likely that fragments made it to the ground.
When meteorites fall, the smallest fragments drop first and the biggest last, forming a distinctive strewn field along the ground track. The strewn field is thought to lie well east of Phoenix on the Fort Apache Reservation near the town of Cibecue, Arizona. Any would-be hunters will have to obtain permission from individual landowners to seek potential space rocks.
Arizona Meteor from Turkey Spring Observatory, Payson AZ
More news as it develops. Be sure you click on the fantastic video above – just sent to me by reader Bruce Rasch. You really get a sense of blinding light from the blast.