NASA releases video of solar flare flying towards Earth


New video released by NASA Thursday captures the spectacular instant the sun fired off a solar flare in Earth's direction.

The video shows the coronal mass ejection that created a X1.6 class flare, a designation that means it's one of the more intense flares the sun could put off according to NASA.

The flare, which erupted off of the surface of the sun Wednesday shortly before 2 p.m. EDT, has been barreling towards Earth since then traveling at roughly 2.5 million miles per hour. Scientists don't know exactly what time the flare's burst of radiation will reach us, but National Weather Service's Space Weather Prediction Center expects it will hit sometime Friday.

Tom Berger, director of the Space Weather Prediction Center, told the Associated Press the flare could cause some disruptions for satellites or radio transmissions, but probably not major ones. The power grid could also be impacted, but the radiation shouldn't be enough to shut it down.

But there's some good news: The flare could give a boost to the aurora borealis. Astronomer Hunter Outten predicts the radiation could fire up the famous northern lights so much that they're visible in Canada and northern parts of the United States rarely treated to such views.

Outten expects Friday night to be the best time to catch the big show, although residents living anywhere between Illinois and New Jersey could end up with cloud cover obstructing the view. Those living in the upper chunk of the east coast, along with those anywhere between Nebraska and northern California -- and further north -- could get fair to good views of the northern lights.

Check out the map to see if you'll have a good shot at seeing the big show.

Solar Storm to Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried
Solar Storm to Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried