Remember that huge solar storm from January? The one behind stunning auroras seen in Australia and overseas. Expect to hear more as we get closer to solar maximum next year – part of the sun’s regular 11-year cycle of activity. The latest: A new geomagnetic and solar radiation storm (formed after two solar plasma bursts called Coronal Mass Ejections) is hurtling towards earth at 6.4 million/km an hour, and due to hit tonight!
According to US scientific agency NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration):
On Tuesday, March 6, 2012, a large solar flare erupted from the Sun. Data from NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center suggest that the coronal mass ejection – the blast of plasma from the Sun’s surface -could reach Earth by early Thursday morning (March 8, 2012) US time…Geomagnetic storms from these kinds of space weather events can affect the power grid, navigation systems and other technologies.
The impressive flare from Tuesday evening and a corresponding radiation storm are already triggering high-frequency radio outages at Earth’s poles, which could last a day or more, and possible temporary outages on parts of the day-lit Earth.
Australia’s space weather is monitored by the Ionospheric Prediction Service. The centre’s Dr Matthew Francis told ABC that “Weather permitting, the aurora australis, or southern lights may be visible in Tasmania…It all depends on how the magnetic fields in the CME line up with the Earth’s magnetic field.” Well, that and the overnight cloud forecast (cloudy, for the record). [ABC]