The sun unleashed another major Class X1.5 solar flare Wednesday (March 9), a solar storm so powerful it could spawn dazzling northern lights displays that could be visible from even New York City. The solar flare erupted at 6:23 p.m. EST (2323 GMT), letting loose a wave of charged particles that is aimed straight at Earth and should arrive in the next few days.
When it does, it could super charge the Earth's aurora borealis – also known as the Northern Lights – when the particles interact with the planet's magnetic field and atmosphere. "This flare could make the Northern Lights visible as far south as Washington State, central Idaho, northern Wyoming, the Dakotas and east to Chicago, Detroit, NYC and Boston," explains SPACE.com's skywatching columnist Joe Rao. "Of course, we have to hope that the subatomic particles emitted by the flare arrive at the Earth's vicinity during the nighttime hours and of course, that skies are clear!"