A spectacular event took place on Monday with the largest solar storm since perhaps September 2005 flaring above the Earth and making Auroras visible throughout the U.S.
While usually restricted to a few geographical areas, the shimmering Auroras or the Northern Lights were visible throughout the U.S. in a spectacular display. Georgia, Arkansas, Virginia and Colorado are the states where the solar auroras can be best observed.
This particular solar storm was more intense than any other since September 2005. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration stated that this magnetic plasma bursting out of the sun at incredible speeds caused the solar storms which have been observed in more regions than the usual high altitudes.
Alongside the spectacular and charming displays on the sky, there have been some accounts that due to its intensity, rated at G4 levels, the solar storm might have affected the electricity grid in some regions. At the same time, also due to its strong magnetic influence, the solar storm caused some fluctuations in the GPS signals.
Nonetheless, according to Doug Biesecker, space weather physicist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there were no serious reported damages.
The solar storm causing the sky of the U.S. to light up started on Monday, and was visible on Tuesday as well. It is expected that the effects could last more days. If so, Joe Kunches of the Atmospheric and Space Technology Research Associates advises those who want to catch a glimpse of the Auroras to follow the K-Index.
The K-Index is used to indicate the magnitude and intensity of a geomagnetic storm. It is readily update every three hours on the website of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.
According to Kunches:
“The larger the K-Index, the farther south the aurora is dipping,”
In the case of the mid-Atlantic states an index of 8 or above represents the perfect conditions for the sighting of Auroras.This threshold may be higher for the southern states, and reversely lower for the northern ones.
As stated before, this solar storm is the greatest since the same phenomenon was observed in September 2005. Started on Monday afternoon, the flare was intensified by the solar wind. It is expected that the effects will last more days.
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