Coronal Mass Ejection

Due to a solar storm you may be able to see the Aurora Borealis tonight from your backyard in Council Bluffs IA. This morning there were two solar flares, the second being the most powerful in over a decade. The flares caused radio blackouts, and some transpolar flights were diverted for safety reasons.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017 – At 4:15am an X-class solar flare came from the surface of the sun.   At X2.2 it was the strongest since 2015, then three hours later an X9.3 flare occurred which is much larger.   X-class solar flares cause radiation storms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and often cause radio blackouts.


Radio communications was disrupted heavily impacting the HF amateur radio band. Also, low frequency communication, used in navigation, was degraded for an hour. This morning the 7:30am, Nebraska Morning Phone Net was nearly quiet.


Northern Lights, properly known as the Aurora Borealis is typically only visible near the Artic and Antarctic regions. Solar storms like this can cause the aurora to become visible at lower latitudes, and in some cases our latitude. The stronger the geomagnetic disturbance, the better the chances of a visible light show.

Image credit: KCCI News Des Moines Iowa

Although the best chance of seeing the northern lights is tonight (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday), there are some hindering factors. The moon is bright, which will wash out some of the lights, and the sky is not clear due to smoke from wildfires and weather in general.