Solar Storm Latest: Slim Chance of Northern Lights in Portland, Oregon Coast
(Oregon Coast) – Ever seen the Aurora Borealis on the Oregon coast?
It seems your chances for doing so this weekend are greatly diminishing, but a run of massive solar activity happening right now may have allowed you to see the Northern Lights in Oregon had the weather decided to cooperate a little better. (Above: northern lights in the coast range).
However, an interesting alignment of two planets and the moon has been captivating in the wee hours.
An exceptionally large coronal mass ejection on the sun this week fired off a high-powered wave of charged solar plasma towards Earth, resulting in a good chance that the Northern Lights could be seen as far south as northern California. The wave has been battering the Earth as of 11 a.m., according to SpaceWeather.com.
The X-flare – as the phenomena is called – arrived a bit later than previously thought this morning, but it's among the largest in strength. Space.com said the sunspot known as AR1520 erupted on July 12, registering as an X1.4-class sun storm, among the strongest the sun can possibly unleash, and ending up the sixth solar flare in 2012 of such magnitude.
Scientists say it could spark some severe geomagnetic storms, which may wind up interrupting satellite communication and radio around the world.
Its most pleasant effect, however, is that extra run of the Northern Lights. Scientists say it's fairly likely it could be seen as far south as Oregon.
However, both tonight and Sunday are expected to be mostly cloudy around Portland and the Oregon coast, even including a chance of thunderstorms tomorrow.
Arch Cape at night, near Cannon Beach, with various light sources creating something that looks like the Aurora Borealis on the Oregon coast - but it's not.
But mostly cloudy doesn't necessarily mean completely cloudy, and there may wind up enough breaks to spot the phenomenon along the northern horizon.
It's unclear how long the particles will be hitting the Earth, so it's unknown if the stellar show will even last into Monday morning, or beyond.
The National Weather Service (NWS) is calling for a chance of showers tonight and a bit more tomorrow night, according to its Cannon Beach forecast – which is fairly representative of the coastline.
“Mostly cloudy, with a low around 54,” the NWS said in its weather forecast for Cannon Beach on Saturday night.
Convergance of the moon, Jupiter and Venus this week over Portland
Sunday night may produce less chances of seeing the northern lights.
“A 30 percent chance of showers,” the NWS said in its Sunday forecast. “Mostly cloudy, with a low around 52.”
However, an added bonus for astronomy buffs has been taking place recently, with a gathering of Jupiter, Venus and the moon in the predawn skies around Portland. This will continue for a while longer, visible around 4 – 5:30 a.m., in the east. The crescent moon is joined by the two planets for an interesting layout of three bright spots in the sky. (Below: Manzanita at night)
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