Looks like we’re in for a stormy solar Saturday, as the sun has erupted in our direction again. It shot out an M3.2-class solar flare towards our humble little planet (as you can see above). The resulting stream of charged particles should crash into Earth’s magnetic field on Saturday, and could cause the odd blackout, pretty lights, and conspiracy theorists to go nuts, again.
Come Saturday, stargazers won’t be the only ones keeping an eye on the sky -- satellite and power grid operators will too, as there’s a small potential for damage when the stream hits.
Thankfully it’s just an M-class coronal mass ejection, so there’s nothing much to worry about this time round; just a beautiful array of colours in an enhanced aurora up near the poles. Come 2013 that might change though, as the sun should be at the peak of its 11-year solar cycle, giving the potential for powerful X-class storms. The satellites we kind of rely on are pretty vulnerable floating up there in orbit. Still, it’d be quite a show though. [MSNBC]