SOLAR WIND SPARKS NORTHERN LIGHTS: For the second day in a row, Earth is inside a stream of solar wind blowing from a large hole in the sun's atmosphere. Moving with speeds near 700 km/s, the electrified gas is buffeting Earth's magnetic field and sparking bright auroras around the Arctic Circle. Bernard Marschner sends this picture from Fairbanks, Alaska:
"On Feb. 1st, I drove out of Fairbanks to photograph the auroras over a black spruce forest," says Marschner. "At first the lights were dim, and it was very cold outside (-5 F), so I sat in the car with the motor running to keep myself and my camera warm. Suddenly the sky exploded in color! I hopped out for photos, and it didn't seem quite so cold any more."
More auroras are possible tonight as Earth continues to move through the solar wind stream. NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on Feb. 2nd.