The sun is producing the strongest solar radiation storm since May 2005, according to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

NASA says it’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observed the huge M8.7-class solar flare that erupted late on Sunday, Jan. 22 and peaked today, Jan. 23 at around 0400 UTC.

Now heading for Earth, the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) produced by the solar flare is expected to get here tomorrow, Jan. 24. at around 1400 UTC.

As a result, NOAA has issued a Geomagnetic Storm Watch. The storm is expected to continue into Wednesday, Jan. 25.

Space weather models at NASA’s Goddard Space Weather Center show the CME is moving at almost 1,400 miles per second.

NASA says this CME could provide skywatchers with spectacular views of the aurora.  Normally, those who live closest to the magnetic north and south poles can observe the aurora.

However, with this storm, those who live further south of the magnetic north pole, or  further north of the magnetic south pole, may be able to enjoy the display.

While the Earth’s magnetosphere should protect us from most of the effects of the CME, it does have the potential to cause havoc with terrestrial and satellite communications equipment.

CME’s have also been known to overload power grids, triggering wide-spread power outages.

Less Sleeps Makes You More Hungry

(Photo: Mitchell Bartlett via Flickr)

(Photo: Mitchell Bartlett via Flickr)

Bad sleeping habits can make you hungrier, increasing your risk of becoming overweight, according to Swedish researchers.

The new study reveals a brain region associated with appetite becomes more active in those who haven’t slept all night as compared to those who had a normal night’s sleep.

Previous to this study, the researchers discovered young men of normal weight had less energy and increased levels of hunger after a lost night’s sleep. They say that shows  lack of sleep affects a person’s perception of food.

For this study, researchers used magnetic imaging (MRI) to analyze the brains of 12 normal-weight males while they viewed images of foods – first after a normal night’s sleep, and then after a night without sleep.

“After a night of total sleep loss, these males showed a high level of activation in an area of the brain that is involved in a desire to eat,” says Christian Benedict, one of the lead researchers. “Bearing in mind that insufficient sleep is a growing problem in modern society, our results may explain why poor sleep habits can affect people’s risk to gain weight in the long run. It may therefore be important to sleep about eight hours every night to maintain a stable and healthy body weight.”

(Photo: Bernard Wee via Flickr)

(Photo: Bernard Wee via Flickr)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has called sleep deprivation a public health epidemic. Lack of sleep has been linked to potentially life threatening incidents like car crashes, and industrial accidents and also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, as well as from cancer.

Some of the common causes of sleep deprivation include stress, diet and lifestyle.

For a good night’s sleep, you already know it’s not a good idea to ingest caffeine or alcohol close to bedtime.  But doctors also point to other causes of sleep loss, such as illness, work schedule, responsibilities at home, medication, an uncomfortable sleep environment or having any kind of sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.