X-class solar flare erupts

01:18, Jul 13 2012
Solar Flare
X-CLASS: This image of the solar flare, a coronal mass ejection, was taken by Nasa's Solar Dynamics Observatory at about 4am (NZT).

New Zealanders may see auroras light up the sky tomorrow as a huge solar flare erupted on the Sun this morning.

The Solar storm is expected to arrive on Saturday, and forecasters at the US government's Space Weather Prediction Center said they expect minimal impact to communication systems and power grids.

It may also spark colourful auroras in the far south of New Zealand, and in the Canada and the United States.

Mt John University Observatory astronomer Alan Gilmore said it normally takes 24 to 36 hours to see auroras following a solar flare.

"It's worth having a look tomorrow night," he said.

Nasa reports the radiation is moving towards Earth at a speed of about 1368km per second.

X-class is the grading given to the biggest flares the sun emits.

The storm is part of the sun's normal 11-year cycle, which is expected to reach a peak next year.