Even the sun threw a little party on New Years’ Eve. If you can call a massive solar flare accelerated by the sun’s magnetic field a party… which we do.
For about four hours the sun sent giant loops of plasma into its corona, or atmosphere. The exact timing with the new year might be a little coincidental, but solar flares are to be expected in 2013; the sun is in an extremely active phase of its 11-year-weather cycle. This year should be the cycle’s peak, with plenty of fireworks to come.
Tonight also marks another cyclical solar event: At 11p.m., the Earth will reach its perihelion, the point at which we are the closest to the sun throughout the entire year. It may seem the opposite with our below-freezing temperatures, but the perihelion always occurs in the dead of winter for the northern hemisphere.
Check the video of the NYE flare recorded by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft, it will definitely make you feel a little warmer.