Solar storm could reach Earth this week

Satellites and power grids on Earth could be affected when a solar storm that started over the weekend reaches Earth Thursday morning.

NASA spacecraft captured video and images of the solar flare. The particles hurled by the flare are not expected to make a direct hit on Earth.  Some particles could strike a glancing blow, though.

AR1429, as the sunspot cluster is known, created a geomagnetic storm that is expected to reach Earth Thursday, March 8, 2012 at about 8 a.m. Central time.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website called the solar flare that started this most-recent storm “one of the largest solar flares of the current solar cycle.”

It’s a Class x flare, which can trigger radio blackouts, disrupt power grids and disrupt satellites orbiting Earth.

The effects could last about 24 hours.

The Wall Street Journal reported North America could see the “good” part of the storm, with auroras or Northern Lights that could be visible as far south as the Great Lakes states or lower.  Those will peak Thursday evening.

There was no prediction on exactly what part of Earth would be affected.

More info on NOAA website at this link:  http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/

More info on Space.com at this link:  http://www.space.com/14818-solar-flare-magnetic-storm-satellites.html

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