Updated: The solar ‘vortex’



Updated: A privately-built rocket whose launch was delayed because of the massive solar flare will take off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 1:07 p.m. EST today. With clear skies over Pittsburgh today, you might be able to catch the Antares rocket streaking across the sky. Or you can watch a webcast of the launch live on SPACE.com, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 12:45 p.m. EST.

Update 2: The launch was successful.

Original post: NASA on Wednesday released a photo of solar flare that was seven times bigger than the Earth and delayed a private rocket launch to the Space Station. 

The flare on Tuesday was an X-class — the largest type on the Richter scale of solar explosions, according to National Geographic. Forecasters at the Space Weather Prediction Center say that they expect G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm conditions on Jan. 9 and 10.

A giant cloud of charged particles, or Coronal Mass Ejection, is heading toward Earth and could put on a cosmic light show early Thursday morning.

Its radiation level put off the launch from Virginia of a commercial spaceflight by Orbital Sciences, whose Antares rocket and robotic Cygnus spacecraft will carry experiments to the Space Station.

“Early this morning, the Antares launch team decided to scrub today’s launch attempt due to an unusually high level of space radiation that exceeded by a considerable margin the constraints imposed on the mission to ensure the rocket’s electronic systems are not impacted by a harsh radiation environment,” Orbital Sciences said.

To track how the solar flare may affect Earth, go here.

You can read about the possible impacts of solar flares here.