|An X1.4 flare erupted from the center of the sun, peaking on July 12, 2012 at 12:52 PM EDT. It erupted from Active Region 1520 which rotated into view on July 6.|
This story was updated at 3:10 p.m. EDT to reflect researchers' revised forecasts of the reach of this weekend's northern lights shows.
A massive solar eruption may trigger an exceptional weekend northern lights display, giving skywatchers around the world a treat, a NASA scientist says.
The sun unleashed an X-class solar flare — the most powerful type — at 12:52 p.m. EDT (1652 GMT) on Thursday (July 12). The storm also triggered a huge eruption of solar plasma known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME, which is now streaking directly toward Earth at roughly 3 million mph (5 million kph).