Solar storm hits Earth, bringing northern lights to New York

A aurora was spotted from the International Space Station. An aurora was created by a geomagnetic solar storm on Oct. 11. It reached as far south as New York.
A solar storm struck Earth, bringing with it a stunning light show that was visible even as far as New York.

On Saturday, Oct. 9, a massive solar flare or coronal mass eruption (CME) was visible on Earth's side. The flare struck our planet yesterday (Oct. 11. This solar flare occurs as Earth enters a period with increased solar activity, known as the solar maximum. (Solar activity changes approximately every 11 years). According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the storm will be a Category G2 event. This is moderately strong.

This magnitude of solar storms can disrupt power grids, affect satellites orbiting Earth and cause damage to satellites. They can also cause a spectacular aurora, which is a natural light show seen only in regions close to the north and south poles. NOAA reported that this storm was so strong it could be seen as far south and across the United States, including New York.

Related: How to See the Northern Lights: Guide for 2021 Aurora borealis

Visualizations of the Oct. 11, 20,21 G2 Geomagnetic storm (Image credit to NOAA)

NOAA issued a geomagnetic thunderstorm watch for Tuesday, Oct. 11. It was extended into Tuesday, Oct. 12. The moderate storm caused satellite orientation irregularities and power grid fluctuations, according to NOAA on Monday. These impacts were reduced to possible fluctuations in the wear power grids on Tuesday.

According to NOAA, auroras could still be visible at high latitudes Tuesday night in places like Canada and Alaska as the storm's effects continue. Skywatchers from other locations could have seen auroras in New York, where they are rare.

Randy Halverson, a photographer from South Dakota, captured an amazing view of the aurora on October 11.

Last night, Aurora in central SD 12, 2021 See more

These solar storms are common space weather phenomena, as the sun frequently emits CMEs out of its atmosphere. CMEs are composed of electroly charged plasma. After the sun has spit it out, this plasma travels outside and can hit Earth’s magnetic shield.

This is how auroras are created.


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