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Enormous solar outburst could dazzle your weekend

Auroras may dazzle more people than usual this weekend as Earth receives a glancing blow from an enormous solar outburst that erupted on Jan. 19.

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In this March 9, 2011 file photo, the aurora borealis, or northern lights, fill the sky above the Takotna, Alaska checkpoint during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. Some are predicting 2012 will be a banner year for viewing the northern lights.

Bob Hallinen/The Anchorage Daily News/AP

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Auroras may dazzle more people than usual this weekend as Earth receives a glancing blow from an enormous solar outburst that erupted on Jan. 19.

The outburst, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), was detected by sun-watching satellites.

Researchers at the University of Alaska's Geophysical Institute predict that auroras should be visible from Seattle, Des Moines, Chicago, and Cleveland, to Boston and Halifax, Nova Scotia Saturday and Sunday nights, weather permitting.

RELATED: Are you scientifically literate? Take our quiz!

Space-weather forecasters initially were concerned that Earth would take a direct hit, notes Joe Kunches, a space scientist at the National Weather Service's Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo.

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