EXPLOSION ON THE SUN: On April 23rd around 0500 UT, a dark filament of magnetism on the sun exploded. See the movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. An analysis is underway to determine if any portion of the debris is heading for Earth. Stay tuned.
SOLAR WIND STORM: A solar wind storm is underway around Earth as our planet enters a high-speed stream of gas flowing from a large hole in the sun's atmosphere. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the source of the wind on April 23rd:
This is a coronal hole (CH)--a place in the sun's atmosphere where the magnetic field peels back and allows solar wind to escape. Solar wind flowing from this hole is moving faster than 700 km/s--a veritable gale. Moreover, the wind is threaded with "negative polarity" magnetic fields. Such fields do a good job connecting to Earth's magnetosphere and energizing geomagnetic storms. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras on April 23-24. Free: Aurora Alerts
EARTH DAY AURORA SURPRISE: On April 22nd, Northern Lights descended into the United States as far south as Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington, kicking off an unexpected display of bright auroras for Earth Day. Both ends of our planet started to glow as the magnetic storms intensified. Cindy Ballantyne sends this picture from the Otago Peninsula in New Zealand:A bright CME that left the sun on April 19th was supposed to miss Earth. Instead, it hit, delivering a glancing blow that surprised forecasters.