While you were busy celebrating the summer solstice, our sun was erupting with a great flash of light and ejecting billions of tons of solar material out into space.
Call it the summer solstice flare of 2013.
The relatively mild solar flare occurred at 8:15 p.m. PDT Thursday evening, just a few hours before the moment when the Earth's North Pole was tipped the most toward the sun, signaling the start of summer.
The official solstice occurred at 10:04 p.m. PDT.
It's almost as if the sun were celebrating the arrival of warm days and long nights with those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.
The solar flare is classified as an M2, which is not especially strong for a solar flare. The coronal mass ejection was a bit more dramatic. According to computer models used by scientists at
CMEs that interact with the Earth's magnetic field can cause geomagnetic storms on our planet, which can in turn cause disruptions in communication signals and power grid surges. But there's nothing to worry about this time: the super-fast CME is not headed toward Earth.