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Afterglow from the solar storm

Did you feel that magnetic breeze? Solar weather trackers say a "pulse" in the solar wind of electrically charged particles swept past monitoring satellites today, in the wake of last Friday's X-class solar flare and coronal mass ejection. But the main force of the blast was not pointing toward Earth, and thus no big impact on our planet's magnetic field is expected.

"Another effect of Friday's eruption, a solar radiation storm, continues its leisurely decay and is nearing the end of the event," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Solar Weather Prediction Center reported on its website.

The most significant effect of the past week's solar storming has been an upswing in spectacular pictures of the northern lights, as seen from Scandinavia and other high-latitude locales. Swedish photographer Peter Rosen got some great pictures over the weekend.

"I live in Abisko, next to the Aurora Sky Station — a great place to see northern lights," Rosen told me in an email. "The Aurora Sky Station has become a very nice tourist attraction. ... I was there last Saturday and almost 100 people from all over the world were on the mountain. We had a great aurora from 9 p.m. to 12:30 due to another geomagnetic storm."

For more of the latest and greatest pictures of the northern lights, check out the selection on Rosen's website, Rosenmedia.se, as well as on SpaceWeather.com. Stay tuned for further auroral updates as the sun's 11-year activity cycle heads toward an expected peak in 2013.

More auroral glories:


Alan Boyle is msnbc.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter or adding Cosmic Log's Google+ page to your circle. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for other worlds.