Earth Directed X2 Solar flare in progress.

May 1, 2011
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Michigan
www.lakefx.net
From spaceweather.com:

X2-FLARE AND RADIO BLACKOUT:
Sunspot AR2297 has just unleashed a strong Earth-directed solar flare (March 11 @ 16:22 UT). Extreme UV radiation from the blast, which measured X2 on the Richter Scale of Flares, is causing HF radio fade-outs and other propagation effects on the dayside of Earth, primarily over the Americas: map. Meanwhile, natural radio emissions from the sun suggest that a CME might be emerging from the blast site at speeds exceeding 1,400 km/s (3.1 million mph). Stay tuned for updates.

Those of you that follow northern lights around, a 1400 km/s Earth Directed CME is very significant, especially with the generally weak solar cycle and overall bad luck we've been having. Northern Lights very possible in the next 36-60 hours.
 
May 1, 2011
166
173
11
38
Michigan
www.lakefx.net




My absolute favorite indicator of future aurora strength is the ACE Bt Bz number (top graph, red and white)



Any "red" value of -5 and lower is generally good enough for Aurora in the usual places. -10 is good for strong aurora reaching northern tier US states. -15 to -20 is deep into the northern tier, and anything lower than -20 is could translate to either intensely bright aurora or visibility even further south. There are other parameters like density and solar wind speed that could intensify or weaken the overall impact but they seem more secondary overall.
As of right now, very good shape. This should remain fairly intense for another 4-6 hours minimum.
 
Jun 14, 2009
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Altoona, Iowa
toddrector.com
I have wanted to see the northern lights all of my life, and I finally have good enough camera gear to where I think I can get some decent shots. It sickens me that we have high, thin cloud cover right now as well as in the immediate forecast. I am crossing my fingers for clear skies tonight.
 
Jun 14, 2009
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Altoona, Iowa
toddrector.com
We had cloud cover but it looked like there was a better chance for clear skies in Minnesota (plus it was higher latitude, so win-win). I took off from Des Moines about an hour before sunset thinking I would go as far as Albert Lea or so , but after driving north for an hour with no indication whatsoever I would be encountering clearing skies I decided to turn back home. I set the alarm and checked several times overnight but we had cloudy skies each time. I should be used to this; it happens during classic meteor events and eclipses, too.