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Tuesday, 25 September, 2001, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Auroral light show expected
Sun University of Hawaii
It is an active time on the Sun (Uni of Hawaii)
By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse

Skywatchers at latitudes greater than 55 degrees north and south could be in for a fine auroral display on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On 24 September, at 1038 GMT, a huge explosion occurred on the Sun above sunspot region 9632, which hurled a giant cloud of magnetic superhot gas towards the Earth.

Scientists are monitoring flare activity on the star
The first arrivals from the explosion, a mass of energetic protons, reached the Earth a few minutes later. The magnetic cloud travels more slowly and is expected to disturb the Earth's magnetosphere on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning GMT.

As a result, of this disturbance, astronomers are predicting a good chance of aurorae over the next few nights. To see them, get away from artificial lights, allow 20 minutes for your eyes to become dark-adapted and look towards the poles.

Lights Juha Kinnunen
The night sky could be spectacular (Image by Juha Kinnunen)
The Sun is particularly active at the moment with many sunspots scattered across its surface. Nine definite spot groups can be counted, some comprising a myriad of small spots clustered around larger ones.

Another solar disturbance buffeted the Earth on 23 September, prompting a magnificent display of aurorae captured in this stunning picture by Juha Kinnunen in Finland.

With luck, a similar display could occur in the next few days.

See also:

02 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Light show set to continue
01 Apr 01 | Sci/Tech
Solar storms spark light show
30 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Giant sunspot erupts
29 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Giant sunspot may explode
19 Feb 00 | Washington 2000
National grid gets space protection
22 Sep 00 | Sci/Tech
Giant sunspot comes into view
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