A new NASA video from a spacecraft watching the sun has captured spectacular views of solar flares erupting from the star this week just ahead of Halloween.
The video, taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Orbiter, shows mesmerizing close-up views of solar flares (opens in new tab) blasting off the sun between Monday and Thursday (Oct. 25-28), ending with a major X1-class solar storm that could amplify Earth's northern lights displays over Halloween weekend.
"Brighter than a shimmering ghost, faster than the flick of a black cat's tail, the sun cast a spell in our direction, just in time for Halloween," NASA officials wrote in a video description (opens in new tab).
Related: The sun's wrath: Worst solar storms in history
If you take a photograph of the Halloween northern lights from the solar flare, send images and comments in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The video begins with a series of solar eruptions on Monday from an active region on the left limb (or side) of the sun that "flickered with a series of small flares and petal-like eruptions of solar material," NASA officials wrote.
Perhaps more impressive was the X1 solar flare, which exploded Thursday from a sunspot in the lower center of the sun, directly facing the Earth. X-class flares are the most powerful types of solar storms the sun can have.
"Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation," NASA officials wrote in the video description. "Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel."
The Solar Dynamics Orbiter is part of a fleet of different spacecraft that constantly track the sun's weather for such storms.
Thursday's flare was accompanied by a radiation storm and a massive eruption of solar material, called a coronal mass ejection, that flung charged solar particles outward at over 2.5 million mph (4 million kph). Those particles should reach Earth this weekend and could supercharge the planet's auroras, also known as the northern and southern lights.
Earth's auroras occur when charged particles from the sun interact with the upper atmosphere, causing an ethereal glow. The Earth's magnetic field funnels these particles toward polar regions, so they're typically visible at high, northern latitudes in our hemisphere.
But the additional particles from Thursday's solar storm could amplify the auroras to make them visible from much farther south, possibly as far south as New York, Idaho, Illinois, Oregon, Maryland and Nevada, NASA scientists have said.
It can be difficult to see any auroras if you live near city lights as light pollution can wash out the glow, and they definitely won't be as dazzling as the displays seen at high latitudes or by astronauts in space.
For tips on how to catch auroras on camera, check out our guides on where and how to photograph the aurora, as well as the best equipment for aurora photography and how to edit aurora photos once you have them.
Editor's note: If you snap an amazing photo of the northern lights this weekend, let us know. You can send images and comments in to email@example.com.