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Aurora borealis may be visible tonight

Energy toward the Earth and is expected to cause a large solar radiation storm

January 24, 2012|Meteorologist Brent Watts

UPDATED 10:47PM:  So far tonight, the best viewing of the aurora has stayed in the New England states and in Canada. There's the outside chance that we could catch a glimpse late tonight, but it doesn't appear to be as active as the one was a few months ago. Here's a couple sites that try to predict within the hour, when the aurora might be visible.

http://helios.swpc.noaa.gov/ovation/

http://www.softservenews.com/Aurora.htm

UPDATED 7:00PM: Tonight, the aurora borealis (northern lights) may be visible to portions of the northeast, even into the Mid-Atlantic under perfect conditions. Last year, the northern lights were seen by numerous viewers in our area. It was a faint red and green, and is best seen in rural areas away from the city lights. Don't cancel plans tonight to go see it, but the chances are better tonight than they have been in several months.

WHAT CAUSES IT

On Sunday, a large solar flare on the sun released a burst of particles for the sun's atmosphere. According to NASA, it's headed toward the earth at 1,400 miles per second.

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This is one that scientists have considered a very large one. In fact, the largest radiation storm since 2005.

The main concern is that a magnetic storm from this flare may impact GPS systems and communications systems, especially the farther north you go. In small cases, the storm could disrupt the electrical grid. NASA isn't expecting that to happen.

NASA is estimating we may experiance the storm as early as Tuesday morning on earth. We've seen strong solar activity as early as last year. One such event allowed those away from city lights to see the aurora borealis, or northern lights, typically only seen by those in higher latitudes.

There's a chance we could have a repeat performance today with the northern lights. It's always tough to predict just how great a show it will be.

>Visit SPACEWEATHER.COM for the aurora borealis peak times.

The sun is undergoing an active period right now, and more of these solar flares are likely in the coming months.

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