Over the past year the Sun has been relatively quiet, as far as the amount of Sunspot activity is concerned. In the recent months, however, as Solar Cycle 24 continues to ramp up, Sunspot activity has also increased. One particular significant Sunspot has begun to fling a potent stream of electrons in the direction of Earth. One such wave of energy created some beautiful Auroral displays overnight February 7th. With another increase in the solar wind, residents of the Valley and Lakes region should keep an eye out for more significant auroras. There are several web sites that keep track of the goings on with the Sun and Solar Activity. One such web site, operated by the NOAA is the Space Weather Prediction Center. With the forecast calling for a decrease in cloud cover overnight, Sky Watchers may get a better view of the sky. At this time, the best clearing is forecast over the far northern Red River Valley and northwest Minnesota.
Want some tips on viewing the Aurora? The NOAA SWPC web site has a Tips For Viewing the Aurora which may prove of interest. Or, search the web for other ideas as well! The Space Weather Prediction Center is part of the National Weather Service and is one of the nine National Centers for Environmental Prediction. It is the nation's official source of space weather alerts, watches and warnings. SWPC provides real-time monitoring and forecasting of solar and geophysical events which impact satellites, power grids, communications, navigation, and many other technological systems.