Missed the Northern Lights? You Might Get Another Chance Soon!

Reported by Pushpa


If you missed the stunning northern lights show earlier this month, don’t worry—you might get another chance to see them soon!


A very active region on the sun is continuing to send out big bursts of plasma and magnetic energy. These powerful solar flares are heading towards Earth again, potentially giving us more opportunities to see the aurora borealis (northern lights).


Earlier this month, we experienced the most intense geomagnetic storm in 20 years, creating amazing northern lights displays across Canada and much of the Northern Hemisphere. Now, the same sunspot responsible for that storm is reappearing, and it could produce more strong flares in the coming days and months.


Anthony Farnell, a meteorologist from Global News, says parts of the country might see some aurora activity as early as this weekend. “There is the potential for a G2 solar storm starting late Friday, and we could see northern lights this weekend,” he said. The storm is expected to hit Earth around May 31 or June 1.


Solar flares are categorized by strength, from the weakest B-class to the strongest X-class. Earlier this month, the solar region AR 13664 produced 12 X-class solar flares in just six days, leading to the strongest geomagnetic storm since 2003. While this region weakened on the far side of the sun, there’s still a good chance it will produce more X-class flares soon.


Farnell explained that we are nearing the peak of the sun’s 11-year solar cycle, which is stronger than the last peak. This means we might see solar storms reaching levels not seen in decades. The solar cycle is a pattern of highs and lows in solar activity, including sunspots, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections (CME). The sun is expected to reach the peak of this cycle within the next year, which has scientists and aurora enthusiasts excited.


For sky-watchers, this is great news! More northern lights displays are likely this summer and fall as the sun reaches its peak.


According to spaceweather.com, the solar region AR 13664, now renamed AR 13697, ejected a powerful solar storm earlier this week on May 27. This X2.8-class solar event was one of the most intense in recent years, causing a massive CME to erupt, though it was facing away from Earth.


The sun rotates approximately every 27 days, and it’s hard to track what’s happening on the far side. However, thanks to the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter craft, scientists have been able to follow AR 13664/13697. They noticed a drop in the frequency of X-class flares, but it’s unclear if this trend will continue.


As for another dazzling northern lights show like the one earlier this month, it’s hard to predict. The sun would need to emit multiple X-class flares quickly or produce one large flare under perfect conditions for a similar geomagnetic storm.


In any case, keep an eye on aurora prediction websites and apps over the weekend and in the coming weeks to see if the sun has another light show in store!

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