Minor geomagnetic storming, first auroras of 2014 - moderate solar activity to continue
High speed solar speed is creating brief periods of geomagnetic storming. High latitude skywatchers should be alert for auroras.
Solar activity has been at moderate levels for the most of the day. There are 8 active sunspot regions on the Earth side of the Sun and the activity will remain elevated in the days ahead with a chance of isolated X-class events. The largest solar event today was a M1.7 solar flare observed at 02:33 UTC from Region 1944 (S08E64).
The geomagnetic field has been at quiet to minor storm levels. Solar wind speed, as measured by the ACE spacecraft, reached a peak speed of 666 km/s at 20:59 UTC.
Space Weather Message Code: ALTK05
Serial Number: 733
Issue Time: 2014 Jan 02 2103 UTC
ALERT: Geomagnetic K-index of 5
Threshold Reached: 2014 Jan 02 2059 UTC
Synoptic Period: 1800-2100 UTC
Active Warning: Yes
NOAA Scale: G1 - Minor
Potential Impacts: Area of impact primarily poleward of 60 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.
Induced Currents - Weak power grid fluctuations can occur.
Spacecraft - Minor impact on satellite operations possible.
Aurora - Aurora may be visible at high latitudes, i.e., northern tier of the U.S. such as northern Michigan and Maine.
CME from yesterdays strong M9.9 flare (AR 1936) is not expected to significantly impact the Earth's geomagnetic field.
Region 1936 showed signs of decay in its intermediate and follower spot groups. Flaring Region 1944 continued to rotate onto the visible disk and was the largest sunspot group with an areal coverage of 630 millionths today. Region 1940 (S12W66, Dao/beta) did not produce any significant flaring but did display growth in its leader spots. The remaining sunspot groups showed indications of decay or stability.
Sunspots on January 2, 2014. Image credit: SDO HMI
1934 S16W97 273 80 11 EAC 5 BGD
1936 S16W49 225 210 13 EAC 18 BGD
1938 S12W03 178 30 4 CRO 6 B
1940 S12W59 235 40 4 CAO 3 BG
1941 S12W34 210 40 5 DAO 4 BG
1942 N10E49 126 20 1 CRO 1 B
1943 S11E57 118 20 3 CRO 1 B
1944 S07E75 101 250 7 DKO 3 B
Solar wind stream that buffeted Earth's magnetic field on January 1, sparked the first auroras of 2014. Tour guide Peter Rosén photographed the New Year's display from Abisko National Park in the Swedish Lapland:
Taken by Peter Rosén on January 1, 2014 @ Abisko NP, Swedish Lapland (via SpaceWeather)
This is what he wrote: "The first night at our new ice igloo camp in Abisko NP! And what a night! And what a start of the New Year! Me, my 2 new photo guides Ylva and Anette and 11 photo guests from all over the world got to see the most incredible Aurora tonight. I’m so happy. And when Ylva Sarri started to sing a traditional Sámi jojk about the wind, while we were sitting next to the fire I think more than me got an almost religious feeling. The Aurora started already at 5 pm and is still dancing above my cabin when I write this to Spaceweather. Hope this is a good sign for the rest of 2014."
By 22:30 UTC today two m-class solar flares were observed - M1.7 at 02:33 and M1.2 at 22:18 UTC - both from Region 1944 (S08E64, Fkc/beta-gamma). This region is moving into geoeffective position.
NOAA SWPC forecasters estimate 75% chance for M-class solar flares, and 30% chance for X-class (Jan 3 - 5).
Featured image Peter Rosén on January 1, 2014 @ Abisko NP, Swedish Lapland