Solar Tsunami Light Show Tonight -- Where to See It

Cynthia Dermody
23

northern lightsTonight, turn off the television and go outside. There's not a whole lot on, and you may be missing a once in a lifetime chance to view the solar tsunamis coming to earth, courtesy of our friend, the sun.

No worries -- you're not going to perish in fiery destruction. You might even be able to catch the second half of Hell's Kitchen.

The surface of the sun exploded over the weekend, sending clumps of plasma and solar material hurtling toward earth. The tsunami won't hit the ground, but it will infiltrate a layer of the earth's atmosphere, wreak some geomagnetic havoc, trickle down the poles, and create a celestial tapestry of green and yellow ribbons similar to what you see in the picture above. The worst it will do is mess up a few satellites.

This picture above of the famous "northern lights" was taken in Greenland. If you remember earth science class at all, you may recall that this is an aurora, the most famous of which is probably the aurora borealis. Usually you have to live in a polar region, like Alaska to Canada, to see this. But tonight's show may be different.

At right is a picture of the sun. See those dark-colored splotches in the upper right hand corner of the sphere? Those were the plasma explosions that have detached from the orb and are on their way to earth as I write this.

sun exploding tsunamiAccording to astronomers, people who live in the northern United States might have a shot at seeing the spectacular light show. People in England and other northern climes are also expected to have a good view. No one knows exactly when it might appear, or how dramatic it will be from your particular vantage point, so you'll have to keep an eye peeled toward the northern sky tonight and tomorrow.


Images (top to bottom): nick russill/Flickr; NASA

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