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Northern Lights take their cue from massive solar storm (images)

One of the biggest geomagnetic storms in recent history is sending massive doses of charged particles toward Earth.

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Charles Cooper
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1 of 10 Shawn Malone/LakeSuperiorPhoto

Over Lake Superior

This is the sky show as seen from the shores of Lake Superior. It is just part of what skywatchers expect will be an incredible series of auroras resulting from the impact of charged particles smashing through the Earth's protective shell during the current solar storm.
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2 of 10 NASA/SDO

Solar filament

After four years of relative quiet, the sun has begun generating powerful blasts: two, actually, within the space of month: February 15 and March 9. Scientists note that flares are our solar system's largest explosive events.
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3 of 10 Eric Frigon, Thesuntoday.org, Spaceweather.com

In Canada

A view from Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.
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4 of 10 Stephen Voss, Thesuntoday.org, Spaceweather.com,

In New Zealand

The sky from Sandy Point, near Invercargill, New Zealand.
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5 of 10 NASA

Heavens on Earth

The increased radiation, which collects along the Earth's poles, has the potential to wreak temporary havoc with communications. But it also makes for quite beautiful auroras. To learn more about solar storms, click here.
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6 of 10 NASA/SDO

Sun erupts

This shot is taken from video of solar eruptions and the resulting geomagnetic storm.
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7 of 10 Goddard Space Center

Solar activity close-up

Image of the sun taken today.
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8 of 10 NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Infrared shot

This is an infrared view of the eruptions.
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9 of 10 NASA/SDO/AIANASA

Multiple-wavelength view of X5.4 solar flare

This solar flare was categorized as an X5.4, making it the second largest flare logged by astronomers since 2009.
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10 of 10 ESA

Temporarily 'blinded'

The Venus Express spacecraft orbiting Venus is much closer to the sun than is the Earth. Scientists at the European Space Agency report that the craft was affected by the radiation on March 7. Startracker cameras that help Venus Express measure its position and orientation got blinded, forcing mission controllers back on Earth to take them out of service temporarily. A representative said the craft is now maintaining its altitude using gyroscopes.

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