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CME IMPACT! The first of possibly two incoming CMEs hit Earth's magnetic field today at approximately 1730 UT (1:30 pm EDT). As a result of the impact, a polar geomagnetic storm is brewing. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras after nightfall.
UPDATE: Northern Lights are being sighted now in Europe. Jesper Grønne sends this picture from Denmark (latitude +56 degrees):
Rob Stammes sends this report from Laukvik, Lofoten, Norway: "At 17.40 UT, electrical currents began to flow throgh the ground outside my laboratory: data. This indicated the arrrival of the CME. Three hours later a geomagnetic storm is active, strong enough for auroras."
COMPLEX ERUPTION ON THE SUN: On August 1st, the entire Earth-facing side of the sun erupted in a tumult of activity. There was a C3-class solar flare, a solar tsunami, multiple filaments of magnetism lifting off the stellar surface, large-scale shaking of the solar corona, radio bursts, a coronal mass ejection and more. Click on the image to view just a fraction of the action:
The movie recorded by extreme UV cameras onboard the Solar Dynamics Observatory shows an enormous magnetic filament breaking away from the sun. Some of the breakaway material is now en route to Earth in the form of a coronal mass ejection (CME).
Seeing the sun erupt on such a global scale has galvanized the international community of solar physicists. Researchers are still sorting out the complex sequence of events and trying to understand why they all happened at once. Stay tuned for more movies and analyses in the days ahead.
Solar Eclipse Photo Gallery
[NASA: South Pacific Eclipse] [animated map]