NASA reports that the sun erupted late last night with a large solar flare—an M8.7 class flare. The classification is calculated according to the peak flux of 100 to 800 picometer x-rays near Earth measured from the GEOS weather satellite. There are 5 letter classifications for solar flares, each with a linear 1-9 number scale of severity. M is the fourth most powerful class, with X leading the way. But last night's earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME), captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory in the video below, was just a few tenths off from hitting X.
The solar flare eruption came from the sunspot 1402, a region of increased activity lately, and the cause of the strongest radiation storm since 2005.
NASA's own Goddard Space Weather Center predicts that the barrage of charged particles (CME) triggered by the solar flare will reach Earth's magnetosphere as early as tomorrow, January 24th, at 9 a.m EST (6 a.m. PST), though it could happen seven hours earlier or later.
So, if you've got cameras, make sure to have them ready, because there might be some great auroral displays to snap, possibly even at lower latitudes than normal, claims NASA. If you happen to snag a great shot, post it the corkboard for all to see!