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The most powerful solar blast of this solar cycle happened on Valentine's Day and it will spark bright auroras when it hits the planet this week.
The flare was classified as an X-Class solar flare. At the time of the explosion, from Sunspot 1158, radio bands across the daytime side of the planet, over New Mexico and surrounding areas were affected.
While it’s believed that Solar Cycle 24 will be a quiet period, the past couple of days saw some “excitement” (relatively speaking) as the Sun generated its first X-Class solar flare of Solar Cycle 24. For those of you playing at home, a solar flare is essentially a giant expulsion of gas from the Sun — a sun fart, if you will. While these are not uncommon, an X-Class solar flare is the most powerful classification of flare that there is. The last time one occurred was on December 13th, 2006, in which a solar flare ejected what was estimated to be a billion-ton cloud of gas into space and towards Earth.
What does this mean for us? Not much. While this will serve as an opportunity to see how modern satellites operate during a radiation storm, all people in the Northern Hemisphere should expect is to see an increased aurora as the radiation from the solar flare reacts with Earth’s magnetic field.
So before you head to bed tonight, be sure to take a moment and look up. Who knows, you might see a bit of a show.