A spectacular aurora, also known as the northern lights, could be visible in some northern states this weekend as a "strong" geomagnetic storm is forecast for Earth.
The storm is due to a significant solar flare and coronal mass ejection from the sun that occurred around 11:35 a.m. EDT on Thursday, Oct. 28, scientists from NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center announced on Friday.
The Space Weather Prediction Center notified power grid operators, satellite operators, airlines and other customers about potential impacts of a geomagnetic storm. "Geomagnetic storms on Earth can affect electrical grids, GPS navigation systems and radio and satellite telecommunications," the Center said.
The solar flare was the second most powerful eruption from the sun this year, according to Space.com.
The storm is rated a "G3," which is the third level of NOAA's five-level geomagnetic storm scale. (G1 storms are minor, while G5s are considered extreme.) The G3 storm watch is in effect here on Earth both Saturday and Sunday.
Geomagnetic storms can deliver spectacular aurora on Earth. The aurora forecast for this geomagnetic storm includes the potential for aurora as far south as Pennsylvania, Iowa and Oregon by Saturday night.
"This could be a great show for people in the mid-to-upper U.S. latitudes for aurora," C. Alex Young of NASA told Space.com.
A massive Solar flare (photon burst) left the Sun this week and a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME: loads of plasma!) was released. The flare hit Earth 8.5min later, but the CME arrives tomorrow and will make spectacular auroras around the world! (green line= aurora visible on horizon) pic.twitter.com/S47Iw47aPf
— Dr. James O'Donoghue (@physicsJ) October 29, 2021
What's a solar flare?: And how can a geomagnetic storm make auroras visible in the US?
These storms can heat the ionosphere – where Earth's atmosphere meets space – causing the beautiful auroras here on Earth.
Hence, the northern lights can be visible to stargazers in some spots in the U.S and far northern parts of the world. The southern lights, which are known as the aurora australis, can also be visible in far southern parts of the world.
Impacts from this geomagnetic storm are expected to wane by early next week.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Northern lights this weekend: Aurora borealis expected in some states