After years of puzzling tranquility, the star that is our sun is acting up again. Space Weather reports a Coronal Mass Ejection is headed our way. When the cloud of charged particles hits the upper atmosphere, the Northern Lights (and Southern) may put on a show.
GEOMAGNETIC STORM UPDATE: A CME propelled toward Earth by yesterday's X5-class solar flare is expected to reach our planet on March 8th at 0625 UT (+/- 7 hr). Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, who prepared the CME's forecast track, say the impact could spark a strong-to-severe geomagnetic storm. Sky watchers at all latitudes should be alert for auroras. Aurora alerts: text, phone.I've seen the Aurora Borealis two or three times in my life, the last about 20+ years ago. If the skies are clear where you are tonight, and if you're close enough to the poles, this could be your chance. The moon is going to be full tonight which will wash out dim displays - but a really bright show could still be visible. If the moon sets before sunrise at your location, that could make viewing easier as well. Find the darkest place you can to watch - it may be nothing more than faint flickers in the sky, or it could be really vivid. There's no way to know ahead of time.
The best place to watch auroras is from the International Space Station.
Night falls every 90 minutes as the I.S.S. orbits the earth. Take a look at 1:20 into the video at the link, and you can see what an aurora looks like from above.
Clear Skies Everyone!
UPDATE: Huffington Post has picked up on the story. They embedded this NASA video of the flare event:
The Huff-Po article also has a slide show of auroras from the last few months back in 2011.
Alas for me here - it's overcast with a thin layer of clouds and the full moon.
UPDATE: The NY Times (and doubtless other media outlets) have picked up the story. From the Times
The sun erupted Tuesday evening, and the most noticeable effects should arrive here between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. EST Thursday, according to forecasters at the space weather center. The effects could linger through Friday morning.