The Sun is slowly approaching the maximum point of its cycle, as we can see from the more frequent warnings of geomagnetic storms. As our star gets more active, it spews more charged particles out into the solar system in the form of coronal mass ejections (CME). And the latest one is set to hit Earth in the next few hours.
The increase in charged particles hitting Earth will cause a geomagnetic storm. The National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center expects a strong storm today followed by a more moderate storm tomorrow caused by the continuing stream. Yesterday also saw some increase in activity, with a minor storm caused by the coronal high-speed stream moving ahead of the CME.
“Impacts to our technology from a G3 [strong] storm are usually minimal. However, a G3 storm has the potential to drive the aurora further away from its normal polar residence, and if other factors come together, the aurora might be seen over portions of Pennsylvania, Iowa, to northern Oregon,” the Space Weather Prediction Center, wrote in a post.
The peak of auroral activity is expected over Scandinavia just after sunset, and in North America much later in the night, as different waves of activity “wash” the Earth’s magnetosphere.
Due to the increase in auroral activity, northern and southern lights have been visible since last night and not just from Earth. They have been glittering over the planet and are easily visible from Space too, as the astronauts on the international space station can attest.