A very special atmospheric fireworks display could light up the sky on Wednesday and New Year's Eve. An aurora may be visible in some parts of the Northern Hemisphere after a possible geomagnetic storm Wednesday, according to the Space Weather Prediction Center. The SWPC has predicted strong (G3) geomagnetic storming Wednesday followed by a (G1) minor storming watch for New Year's Eve.
A coronal mass ejection from the sun — a large eruption of charged gas and plasma — was associated with an M1-class solar flare on Monday. Solar flares are classified on strength, with an X-class flare being the most powerful, followed by M-class and C-class flares.
The CME interacts with Earth's magnetic field, which could affect power systems, GPS and spacecraft, cause radio blackouts and create strong aurora displays. G3 geomagnetic storming could affect satellite and low-frequency radio navigation, according to the SWPC. The aurora may be visible as far south as Illinois and Oregon.
The SWPC predicted G3 storming for early Wednesday morning, around 7 a.m. EST, but the geomagnetic storming may occur later than expected. The magnetic field and plasma are still on track to hit Earth with a 90 percent chance for geomagnetic activity, Spaceweather.com reported.
— AuroraMAX (@AuroraMAX) December 29, 2015
For New Year's Eve, the SWPC is predicting minor geomagnetic storming due to the CME, but less than Wednesday's. A G1 storm is a minor event with little impact on spacecraft, navigation systems or power systems. Aurora displays may be visible around northern Michigan or Maine. Parts of Canada are also prime spots to observe the aurora.
If you're living in a northern latitude and want to be alerted about potential aurora displays, you can use the SWPC's aurora 30-minute forecast. The red line indicates where aurora will be visible. As with all astronomical events, get away from city lights for the best view. The weather will also affect the ability to see the aurora.