A photo blog of world events by Sacbee.com Assistant Director of Multimedia Tim Reese.
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January 25, 2012
Strongest solar storm since 2005 hitting Earth
STOCKHOLM (AP) -- A storm from the broiling sun turned the chilly northernmost skies of Earth into an ever-changing and awe-provoking art show of northern lights on Tuesday.
Even experienced stargazers were stunned by the intensity of the aurora borealis that swept across the night sky in northern Scandinavia after the biggest solar flare in six years.
U.S. space weather experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday evening that so far they had heard of no problems from the storm that triggered the auroras, which made it as far south as Wales, where the weather often doesn't cooperate with good viewing.
It was part of the strongest solar storm in years, but the sun is likely to get even more active in the next few months and years, said physicist Doug Biesecker at the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado.
"To me this was a wake up call. The sun is reminding us that solar max is approaching," Biesecker said. "A lot worse is in store for us. We hope that you guys are paying attention. I would say we passed with flying colors." (8 images)
You can view a NASA video of the storm at the Bee's photo blog, Exposures.



This image taken by NASA on Sunday night, Jan. 22, 2012, shows a solar flare erupting on the Sun's northeastern hemisphere. Space weather officials say the strongest solar storm in more than six years is already bombarding Earth with radiation with more to come. The Space Weather Prediction Center in Colorado observed a flare Sunday night at 11 p.m. EST. Physicist Doug Biesecker said the biggest concern from the speedy eruption is the radiation, which arrived on Earth an hour later. It will likely continue through Wednesday. It's mostly an issue for astronauts' health and satellite disruptions. It can cause communication problems for airplanes that go over the poles. AP / NASA


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The first of three images that shows a solar flare as observed by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) on NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) at 03:27 Universal Time (Greenwich Time) on January 23. Note the brightening of the solar surface as gas was superheated and magnetically supercharged. By the third (right) image, a stream of solar material is seen flowing off into space above the hot spot, likely solar protons and a coronal mass ejection. NASA



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The second of three images that shows a solar flare as observed by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) on NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) at 03:42 Universal Time (Greenwich Time) on January 23. NASA



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The third of three images that shows a solar flare as observed by the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) on NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) at 04:12 Universal Time (Greenwich Time) on January 23. NASA



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This colorized NASA image, taken Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, from the Solar Dynamics Observatory, shows a flare shooting out of the top of the sun. It was taken in a special teal wavelength to best see the flare. AP / NASA handout



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The aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, are seen near the city of Tromsoe, northern Norway, late Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. Stargazers were out in force in northern Europe on Tuesday, hoping to be awed by a spectacular showing of northern lights after the most powerful solar storm in six years. AP / Rune Stoltz Bertinussen



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The aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, are seen near the city of Trondheim, Norway Tuesday Jan. 23, 2012. Stargazers were out in force in northern Europe on Tuesday, hoping to be awed by a spectacular showing of northern lights after the most powerful solar storm in six years. AP / Emil B. Borsting



solar_flare_0125_08.jpg
The aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, are seen near the city of Trondheim, Norway Tuesday Jan. 23, 2012. Stargazers were out in force in northern Europe on Tuesday, hoping to be awed by a spectacular showing of northern lights after the most powerful solar storm in six years. AP / Emil B. Borsting



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