Remember Solar region 1944 from earlier in January? It moved across the solar disk from left to right as viewed from Earth. As it did, it grew in magnetic complexity. It fired a giant X1.2 solar flare with an associated CME. Well, it’s back as solar region 1967, and over the next several days is positioned almost perfectly to produce Northern Lights:
The region rotated around the back side of the Sun, out of view, between January 14th, 2014 and January 27th, 2014. Today, it appeared on the eastern horizon or the left side as viewed from Earth. The region appears to have maintained it size or grown on its journey. The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center numbers sunspot regions as they develop or when they rotate into view. Re-appearing regions are re-numbered. In this case, Region 1944 was re-numbered region 1967.
There have been indications over the last several days that old region 1944 might re-appear with high magnetic complexity. Several M-class flares just over the Eastern horizon were recorded January 26 and 27th. As the region rotated into view, it was first classified as Beta. This afternoon, four delta regions rotated onto the visible disk in the trailing spots. Once those were identified, the region magnetic classification was upgraded to Beta-Delta-Gamma. Regions with delta spots are much more likely M and X class flares. There have already been 6 M-class flares today.
This active solar region is in a position that any CMEs it produces will likely have Earthbound components. If that happens, we have increased chances of seeing Northern Lights in the mid and potentially lower latitudes on Earth.
The pieces are coming together to say there is a decent chance of a CME over the next 1-5 days, and there is a good chance that if there is a CME it will have an Earthbound component. It might be time to start thinking about where you would go to see Aurora late this week, or this weekend.
Happy Hunting and keep tuned to Northern Lights Now for more updates!