This week we may see unconventional auroras

Over the course of this week the Earth is inundated with a series of solar (or geomagnetic) storms: scientists from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) have warned that the most intense phenomena should have concentrated between yesterday and the day before yesterday, but there is a good chance that more will occur in the coming days. I am the result of a moderate intensity solar flare that occurred a few days ago.

Particularly intense solar storms – at most second level on a scale ranging from 1 to 5 – are not expected, nor are concrete repercussions on any aspect of life on Earth. To the utmost some auroras may appear at unconventional latitudes, even compatible with those of New York. For now, however, no extraordinary reports have been heard in this regard. However, it should be noted that according to some scientists it could be one of the most intense phenomena of the last six years.

Space equipment and equipment are instead more at risk with this type of phenomenon. The guys at SpaceX will be particularly nervous, we imagine, given that just a few weeks ago a solar storm just precipitated about forty Starlink satellites (disintegrated during the reentry). However, it is true that the intensity of these storms should not be such as to cause too much concern.

It is worth remembering that, even if we do not perceive them too concretely, Grade 1 and 2 solar storms are extremely common events: they arrive on earth around 2,000 every 10 years. Grade 5 ones, on the other hand, are extremely rare, and fortunately: they could cause enormous problems for telecommunications. In 1859, the most intense ever, known as Carrington event, which dyed red and populated the skies of various areas of Central America (Cuba, Jamaica, Bahamas …) with auroras and even caused the fires of various telegraphs. According to experts, an event of this magnitude nowadays would send the entire internet offline for several months.


However, NOAA observes that solar activity is increasing: since the beginning of the year, the incidence of CME (the acronym for Coronal Mass Ejection, or coronal mass ejections, which in fact can originate solar storms) has been almost daily, although not all of them have reached Earth. This is expected behavior: we are now close to the “solar maximum”, the most eventful point in our star’s cycle (lasting between 10 and 12 years). The solar maximum is expected around July 2025. Excellent time to photograph the auroras, less favorable for space travel.

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