(Click HERE for updates))
Two bursts of solar particles propelled by flares on September 9th and 10th are expected to arrive starting tonight and possibly touch off a moderate G2 geomagnetic storm. Translation: auroras may bloom in the next few nights!
A moderate M4 flare occurred early on September 9th followed by a more powerful X1.6 yesterday afternoon. Provided the magnetic field the particles come packaged in points in the right direction – south – these bursts have good potential for creating auroras tonight and again over the weekend.
The timing is good because the moon is past full and won’t be too bright. During a moderate storm, auroras are often seen across the northern tier of states and Canada. According to the latest NOAA space weather forecast, activity should kick up but remain shy of storm level from 9 p.m.-midnight Central Daylight Time tonight September 11th.
The brunt of the storm is expected from 1-4 a.m. tomorrow morning the 12th with effects lasting until 7 a.m.
This may only be the start of an even stronger storm anticipated Friday night and continuing into the weekend beginning from yesterday’s flare. That one blasted material directly toward Earth. Always a good omen for auroras.
As always with northern lights, keep in mind they’re fickle. Most of the time, Earth’s magnetic defense – a humongous, teardrop-shaped bubble of magnetism called the magnetosphere – acts as a bulwark against strong solar winds, letting them slide by harmlessly. We’ll see what happens on this round, but I’m optimistic.
The Earth weather forecast for my locale is mostly clear tonight, so I’ll be monitoring the sky. Stop back later for an update.
* UPDATE 9 p.m. CDT: Quiet so far. Auroras still holed up in Hudson Bay and Quebec. The magnetic field direction of the arriving wind from the sun shows a lot of variation (see ACE satellite plot, topmost graph showing Bz) rising and falling from positive to negative. Negative is good! A prolonged stay at -10 or lower increase the chance of seeing the aurora.