Photo courtesy of Jacob M. Garrett

By: Tara Blue
An unusually powerful geomagnetic solar storm spread across Mid-Missouri Friday, May 10th through Sunday, May 12th, causing vibrant colorful displays of the aurora borealis upon the night sky.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a rare storm warning for Friday, stating that weather forcasters had observed at least seven coronal mass ejections (CMEs), or large expulsions of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun’s corona. CMEs generally take several days to reach earth but have been observed to arrive in as little as 18 hours ( Scientists continually monitor the sun’s activity, but geomagnetic storms are difficult to predict more than a few days out. There were no reports of significant impact on power plants or orbiting spacecrafts.

NOAA Director Clinton Wallace says this past weekend’s storm was an unusual and historic event. The aurora was visible all across the globe. The most intense solar storm in recorded history occurred in 1859 and prompted auroras in central America and Hawaii (Columbia Missourian).

Southern Boone County residents were able to view the aurora better than most, as our rural country sides reduced light pollution which can make the lights difficult to see.

Photo courtesy of Travis Naughton