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A fireworks show that has nothing to do with the Fourth of July and has everything to do with the universe is poised to be visible in the northern United States and Europe just in time for Halloween.

On Thursday, the Sun launched what’s called an “X-class solar flare” that was strong enough to spark a high-frequency radio blackout in parts of South America. The energy from that flare is followed by solar plasma and a group of other material called coronal mass ejections, or CMEs for short. It is moving toward Earth, prompting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to issue warnings about a potentially stronger geomagnetic storm.


Northern Lights Delight: US skywatchers set out to glimpse the aurora borealis

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It may sound like a science fiction movie. But it really just means that a good portion of the northern part of the country can be covered in a light show called the aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights.

"Last night the Northern Lights were out from about 11 to midnight. Sometimes they were bright and well defined. This photo was shot at Elbow Lake near Grand Marais, Minnesota. Even With the stripes, you can still make out the shape with the Big Dipper pointing at the North Star."  - photographer Brian Hansley

The Northern Lights are taking a name – and the European Tourism Board is taking suggestions

A geomagnetic storm as large as it can produce a display of illumination that can be seen over latitudes such as Pennsylvania, Oregon and Iowa. It can also cause voltage irregularities on high-latitude power grids because of a loss of radio contact on the Sun’s side of the planet.

April 24, 2012: Northern lights on the horizon.