You may have caught wind that a monster solar storm is headed for Earth today, March 14th. Perhaps you’ve already tied up any loose ends and said heartfelt goodbyes to loved ones. Maybe you even took the day off from work to prepare. We regret (but also don’t regret) to inform you that the world is not ending today. The monster solar storm headed towards us isn’t actually dangerous. In fact, these storms are quite common and result in the beautiful auroras in the northern- and southern-most areas of the globe.
Now that we’ve hopefully talked you down, you might be curious as to what a solar storm actually is. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), solar radiation storms are the result of a magnetic eruption on the surface of the sun. These eruptions cause “coronal mass ejections” and solar flares, which send charged particles into the atmosphere.
These particles eventually reach Earth, penetrate the planet’s magnetosphere, and are then guided towards the north and south poles. This is where these particles create auroras. Aurora Borealis is colloquially called the Northern Lights; and Aurora Australis, the Southern Lights.
So that monster solar storm you thought was going to take out planet Earth is actually going to create a natural phenomenon highly sought after by photographers and nature-lovers alike.
If you’re in a northern state like Michigan, Maine, Iowa, or Alaska, look north tonight to potentially catch a glimpse of the solar storm’s side effects. This storm is expected to hold out until tomorrow, March 15th.
No need to fret, earthlings. We’ve survived countless solar storms in the past, and today’s will be no different. Now it’s time to call everyone and take back your goodbyes. And good luck explaining your absence to your boss.