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Solar Flare 2011: Solar Flare Brings Northern Lights


The sun has been sending out solar flares from a sunspot on the sun’s surface, a spot which is more than 62,000 miles in diameter. That’s almost eight times the width of Earth.

The flares have been happening all week, and one of these solar flares was the strongest one reported in four years.

The flares ill enhance the northern lights, naturally occurring colorful  light shows in the night sky, for those in the northern latitudes.


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Pictures of the Northern Lights

There are different classes of solar flares. The M6.6 has a “moderate” intensity, and the X2.2 is considered a “major” event, which causes disruptions to communications systems.

Solar flares are predicted over the next few days that could disrupt satellites.

The National Weather Service in Alaska issued the following statement:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SPACE WEATHER PREDICTION CENTER IN BOULDER COLORADO ANNOUNCED A HIGH PROBABILITY OF A SIGNIFICANT GEOMAGNETIC STORM OCCURRING THURSDAY FEBRUARY 17 THROUGH SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 20.

GEOMAGNETIC STORMS USUALLY LAST 24 TO 48 HOURS… BUT SOME MAY LAST FOR MANY DAYS. GROUND TO AIR… SHIP TO SHORE… SHORTWAVE BROADCAST… AND AMATEUR RADIO ARE VULNERABLE TO DISRUPTION DURING GEOMAGNETIC STORMS. NAVIGATION SYSTEMS LIKE GPS CAN ALSO BE ADVERSELY AFFECTED. IMPACTS IN ALASKA COULD BE MODERATE WITH THIS EVENT.

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