Strongest Solar Storm Since 2005 Headed To Earth

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The sun just keeps shooting at us. Over the weekend, Earth was showered with highly energetic particles from a solar flare that erupted a few days ago. And Monday morning, there was an even bigger burst. Guess what? We're in the line of fire again.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association reports:

"The strongest Solar Radiation Storm since September, 2005 is in progress and continues to get stronger and a very fast Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is headed towards Earth. Geomagnetic storming is a near certainty..."

The newest flare was just shy of being an X class, or the strongest class of solar flare. (Video source: NASA)

The storm is expected to hit Earth Tuesday and last through Wednesday. explains what the radiation-bath means for Earth.

"In addition to generating stronger than normal displays of Earth's auroras (also known as the northern and southern lights), geomagnetic storms aimed directly at our planet can also disrupt satellites in orbit, cause widespread communications interference and damage other electronic infrastructures."

Because of the storm, air travel over the poles is being rerouted and experts are keeping a close eye on power grids. But a writer for the Examiner explains, the most obvious effect of the storm will be the light show it creates.

"On the night of January 23/24 ... observers as far south as the latitudes of New York and Idaho have a good chance of seeing the northern lights. ... To observe the northern lights go outside to a dark clear location with a flat northern horizon. ... No optical instruments are needed."

The sun is currently on the upswing in its 11-year activity cycle. Experts say this means we'll see plenty more of this kind of flare as the cycle peaks in 2013.

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