NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft is monitoring a vast hole in the sun's atmosphere--a "coronal hole." It's the dark region denoted by arrows in this extreme ultraviolet image taken during the early hours of Dec. 30th:From io9:
Coronal holes are places in the sun's atmosphere where the solar magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape. A stream of solar wind flowing from this coronal hole should reach Earth on Jan. 2nd or 3rd--the first solar wind stream of the New Year! High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras....MORE including a great pic of the monster.
The northern lights could be headed south to a night sky near you
The spectacular lights of the aurora borealis are rarely seen outside the Arctic Circle, but fierce solar activity might soon send them southward. The continental US, Japan, and even Mediterranean Europe may all get a taste of the northern lights....MORE