The coronal mass ejection shown top left has enveloped Earth in a geomagnetic storm, which will make for a good Northern Lights show on Thursday March 8 at lower latitudes than usual.

Solar Bombardment Under Way, Milder Than Feared; Northern Lights Set to Glow

ICTMN Staff
3/8/12

The geomagnetic storm unleashed by the sun’s coronal mass ejections (CME) of a few days ago was helping Mother Earth celebrate International Women’s Day on Thursday afternoon March 8, but the blows were not strong enough to disrupt communications systems as scientists had feared.

Earth’s orbit took it out of the direct path of the charged particles that started rocketing toward the planet on Tuesday March 6 after the biggest flare since 2006 let loose. With the storm threat reduced (although the Space Weather Prediction Center said it could yet grow stronger before all is said and done), all that’s left is to sit back and enjoy tonight’s aurora show.

The aurora borealis was expected to be visible as far south as the Great Lakes and maybe even farther, though the full moon’s light could outshine them.

Material from the CME reached Earth at about 5:45 a.m. Thursday morning, said the weather prediction center, a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service.

“While the CME did not hit Earth head-on, the material delivered a glancing blow to the planet, and energetic particles will continue to interact with Earth's magnetic field over the course of the day,” Space.com reported.

Nevertheless, airlines were taking precautions with flights that cross the North Pole. The storm could compromise communications and expose pilots and passengers to radiation, as FoxNews.com reported.

“We are flying alternate routes for seven flights,” said Delta Airlines spokesman Anthony Black to FoxNews.com.

Meanwhile, some caught the Northern Lights show early. The video below is from March 7 over Lake Superior, in Michigan, but it's just a preview of what's to come on Thursday March 8 now that the CME is battling with the Earth's magnetosphere.

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