The sun has been one active star over these last few months. And this week is no different as NASA captured a photo of a brand new solar flare on Sunday.
Thanks to that solar flare, the space agency is now predicting a solar storm will reach Earth at some point early Thursday morning.
Yes, a solar storm sounds highly terrifying, but have no fear, earthlings: it will have little to no effect on humans, other than bringing us all stunning views of the Northern Lights.
You see, when the sun experiences its own solar storm, it emits superheated plasma. That plasma is known as a coronal mass ejection (CME). That CME can then trigger a geomagnetic storm, and that can in turn cause the Earth’s Northern Lights to light up even brighter than usual.
“[CMEs] are huge explosions of magnetic field and plasma from the Sun’s corona,” the Space Weather Prediction Center explained. “When CMEs impact the Earth’s magnetosphere, they are responsible for geomagnetic storms and enhanced aurora.”
These solar storms are measured on a scale of G1 to G5, with G5 being the most extreme and most rare storm category. During a G1 storm, little on Earth is affected.
But, if a G5 were to hit Earth, NOAA explained, widespread problems with our electrical grid would occur, and some areas might even experience complete collapse or blackouts. Meanwhile, satellite navigation would be degraded for days, low-frequency radio navigation could be out for hours, and the Northern Lights could be seen as low as Florida and southern Texas.
However, the storm expected Thursday will simply be a G1, a minor geomagnetic storm. Even with a G1, though, an increase in sun activity means people hoping to see the Northern Lights in places like Alaska, Sweden, Norway, and Iceland will be in for quite a show.
During the last G1 solar storm, which occurred in March, a few surfers in Sweden got to see the Northern Lights in all their glory while they paddled out in the frigid waters.
Meanwhile, folks in Lapland were able to capture this stunning video from the same storm, showing just how colorful the Northern Lights can really get.
And there’s really no need to be jealous of these adventurers as you too can start planning your Northern Lights adventure right now. Just make sure to pack a warm jacket and your camera.