The largest solar flare in five years is on its way to Earth. Although the solar storm will not be dangerous to humans, it could unleash particles that cause disruption to GPS, airplane flights and power grids. The huge solar flare erupted on Tuesday evening and the wave is expected to hit Earth between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. EST on Thursday.
Massive solar flare due to hit Earth on Thursday – NASA
According to the Space Weather Prediction Center, the massive solar storm 2012 is the biggest our planet has seen in the past five years. The giant solar flare is on a direct path to smack into our planet. “It’s hitting us right in the nose,” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist Joe Kunches, jokingly calling it the sun’s version of “Super Tuesday.”
The major solar storm will likely last through Friday morning and more could be on the way. According to Kunches, there are a series of active sunspots targeted at the Earth right now. While this may be the largest solar flare storm we’ve seen in five years, it is not even close to the kind of scary super solar storm the sun could kick out.
Still, the 2012 solar storm could cause some disruptions to power grids, GPS and airplane flights near the poles. “It could give us a bit of a jolt,” NASA solar physicist Alex Young said, according to the Wall Street Journal. How much the Earth is disturbed depends on the speed of the storm and the timing of the hit. Heavy solar storms int he past have knocked out large power grids and played havoc with satellite GPS and communications.
A huge solar storm back in January caused some flights to be rerouted around the poles, but did not cause any major issues to power grids or satellites. As with that storm, humans on the planet are not in any danger from the solar radiation this time around either. Astronauts on the International Space Station should not face any issues either and NASA is not taking any special precautions.
In North America, the best time to catch possible auroras will be on Thursday evening. The Northern Lights could dip down as far South as the Great Lakes or even lower.