Astronomers have observed a giant eruption of material on the Sun that is headed for the Earth. Detected by NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), the million-mile per hour stream of particles is predicted to slam into the Earth sometime Wednesday afternoon. When these events reach the Earth, they can produce spectacular images of the Earth's aurora, or "Northern Lights."
Scientists at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center will be watching the Earth's aurora in real-time with the Ultraviolet Imager Experiment aboard the POLAR spacecraft. "We expect some enhanced activity this afternoon," remarked Dr. Glynn Germany of the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The latest auroral pictures will be posted as they are received from the instrument.
The POLAR spacecraft instruments were turned off on April 10, for a scheduled (and necessary) twice-yearly realignment. Operations will resume on April 15, in the late afternoon.