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Geomagnetic storm could hit Earth this weekend

The northern lights in Abisko, Swedish Lapland, in March 2012. A geomagnetic storm could make auroras more visible in parts of the U.S. this weekend
(Francois Campredon / AFP/Getty Images)
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A geomagnetic storm may be on its way this weekend, and it could be dazzling.

Forecasters at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center say there is a good chance that there will be a geomagnetic storm, or a disturbance in the Earth’s magnetic field, this weekend after the solar flare that erupted on the sun Thursday morning.

Although Thursday’s solar flare was the biggest yet in 2013, it was classified as a mid-level flare. It was still strong enough to cause a brief radio blackout NASA said.

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Massive solar eruption could cause magnetic storm here on Earth

The solar flare itself won’t be responsible for the geomagnetic storm. Instead, it is a coronal mass ejection, or CME, a mass of plasma and charged particles the sun expelled immediately after the solar flare, that could interact with Earth’s magnetosphere and cause the storm. Enhanced auroras may be visible as far south as New Jersey and Oregon late Saturday evening and into Sunday.

People in Los Angeles are too far south to see the otherworldly effects of the storm, but they can still enjoy photos and time lapse videos that sky watchers closer to the poles post online.

Forecasters said the CME will pass Earth late Saturday evening, bringing moderate geomagnetic storm conditions, but most of the disturbance is expected to fall over into Sunday.

Here’s hoping for some beautiful sky watching.


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