BALTIMORE (WJZ) — For the first time in a week, a massive solar flare has sent high speed particles on a collision course with Earth.
Alex DeMetrick reports that will likely trigger Northern lights that may be visible in Maryland.
On Monday, an eruption sent a massive wave of solar energy into space. That magnetic plasma began hitting the Earth Wednesday afternoon—and after dark, it will likely become visible as the Northern lights.
“Hits our atmosphere, oxygen and nitrogen…gives us the light show,” said Dr. Alex Young, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
This is the second solar eruption in a week. They are generated in sunspots that happened to be pointed at earth when they went off. The first was larger and, because it did no damage to satellites or Earth’s power grids, the second wave of energy hitting Wednesday is not expected to cause problems. Earth’s magnetic field offers plenty of protection.
“The magnetic field of the Earth kind of stretches like a big teardrop,” Young said.
While risks of damage is minimal, there’s the chance it will go south.
“You never know; it has happened,” Young said. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed.”
To maximize your chances of seeing the Northern lights, provided they make it as far south as Maryland, it’s recommended you get as far away from city lights as possible.