Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Northern lights seen in Arizona



It may not have been visible to the naked eye, but several Arizonans were able to catch some amazing photos.

PHOENIX — What a treat happening in the sky across the United States Friday night!

Areas of the southern U.S. were able to see the northern lights Friday evening. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a rare severe geomagnetic storm warning when a solar outburst reached Earth on Friday afternoon. The effects were due to last through the weekend and possibly into next week.

Arizonans in Flagstaff, Prescott Valley, Cottonwood and Groom Creek all caught photos of lights in the sky. 

NOAA is calling this an unusual event, pointing out that the flares seem to be associated with a sunspot that’s 16 times the diameter of Earth. An extreme geomagnetic storm in 2003 took out power in Sweden and damaged power transformers in South Africa. 

The northern lights should appear as a faint greenish glow which may appear to dance as it gets more active. Occasionally, other colors such as pink or red, will also be visible. 

Several X users as far south as Florida and Texas posted photos and videos of the colorful skies. 

Using eclipse glasses to see CMEs

If you still have eclipse glasses, they may come in handy this weekend. Using solar eclipse glasses, you can see the cause of the massive solar storm.

The solar storm is an eruption on the surface of the sun that’s sending jets of particles streaming toward Earth, called Coronal Mass Ejections. 

“The sun gets this active region on it, and it starts to get excited, and eventually releases this burst of particles,” ASU assistant professor Katrina Bossert said. 

The active regions, Bossert said, are clusters of sunspots on the sun, which you can see without a telescope. 

If you still have eclipse glasses, Bossert said, you can look at the sun and see a dark spot at the bottom of the sun. Those are the sunspots. 

But again, only look at the sun through eclipse glasses. Similar to the dangers posed by looking at a solar eclipse without proper eye protection, the same dangers are present for the solar storm. 

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