Little Aurora Storm Possible Tonight Aug. 4

The sun’s magnetic field gets “unzipped” when a coronal hole (the dark feature) opens up in its atmosphere, allowing high-speed winds of particles to whoosh into space and breeze over to Earth. This photo was taken in far ultraviolet light late on Aug. 1 when the hole faced our planet. Credit: NASA/SDO

A jumbo-sized coronal hole in the sun’s atmosphere showered the Earth with the high-speed plasma (a soup of electrons and protons) earlier this week. The gift is arriving today and tonight and expected to ignite the northern lights to the tune of a G2 or moderate storm during afternoon hours for the Americas. Tonight’s forecast calls for a minor (G1) storm.

The waxing gibbous moon in Sagittarius will brighten up the sky and likely cover up a minor display, but if G2 levels persist, skywatchers in the northern states and southern Canada could see an arc and maybe even a few pillars in the northern sky. Just a reminder while you’re out. The space station will still be making passes this weekend into next week. Click here and find out when it will fly over your location.