A massive, X-class solar flare (think of it as a monumental sun "burp") is promising to light up the skies of the Northern Hemisphere on Thursday/Friday night (9th and 10th of January). A particularly nerdy member of the Earth Touch team took it upon themselves to create the above timelapse video of the event in all its solar glory.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is providing regular updates on the impact that this giant ball of plasma travelling at around 2 million mph will have on us all when it slams into Earth's magnetosphere. Now, before you start panicking and running for the nearest fallout shelter, we should explain that satellites will not be plummeting back to Earth, power grids will not explode and this is not a mass extinction event in the making.

What it will cause is a particularly impressive aurora borealis (commonly known as the Northern Lights). The supercharged solar protons released by the flare will interact with atoms such as nitrogen and oxygen in our upper atmosphere, exciting them and then causing them to emit a burst of light as they return back to their normal, boring, unexcited state.

So what can you do to catch a glimpse of this natural spectacle? Well, first off, you need to be living at a fairly northern latitude (apparently it may be visible from areas as far south as Ireland, UK or Washington, USA). Try to go somewhere dark and with as little light pollution as possible and keep your eyes pointed to the night sky, looking out for any faint ribbons of colour.