Some interesting space weather may be headed our way.
Dec. 21, 2006: Evidence is mounting: the next solar cycle is going to be a big one.I can’t wait for the Northern Lights. It’s rare you can see them here, but they are really awe inspiring. The last ones I saw here were back in 2001. However, just this week there were some auroras visible in Central Illinois as seen in this photo taken near Lincoln (picture taken by Mike Hardiman and posted on the National Weather Service site).
Solar cycle 24, due to peak in 2010 or 2011 "looks like its going to be one of the most intense cycles since record-keeping began almost 400 years ago," says solar physicist David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center.
Hathaway explains: "When a gust of solar wind hits Earth's magnetic field, the impact causes the magnetic field to shake. If it shakes hard enough, we call it a geomagnetic storm." In the extreme, these storms cause power outages and make compass needles swing in the wrong direction. Auroras are a beautiful side-effect.