A HUGE solar storm is set to hit Earth with the potential to knock out power grids and interfere with communication satellites. It could also upset GPS navigation systems, pose a health risk to astronauts on the International Space Station and cause widespread disruption on the planet. But scientists say theres not too much too worry about - and point out that instead of fretting over the potential havoc we should enjoy the beautiful displays of the Northern and Southern Lights as they collide with the Earths upper atmosphere. The storms are caused by solar wind, when magnetic fields hurl billions of tonnes of storm energy from the Suns surface into the atmosphere. For the first time, scientists have used data analysed by the public to predict that the solar storm should hit Earth at 7.32am on Monday. The initiative, launched by the Royal Observatory in Greenwich (ROG), makes it possible for anyone with an internet connection to get involved in the latest solar research by helping to spot and track storms as they erupt from the surface of the Sun. This enables scientists to forecast the arrival of storms far enough in advance to issue warnings. The team is not overly concerned about the oncoming storm, but the early warning from Solar Stormwatch will allow precautionary measures to be put into place. Telegraph Dr Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the ROG, said: Solar Stormwatch is special in that it harnesses public interest in astronomy to provide data that is invaluable to scientists. The more people that take part in 'stormwatching the more we will learn, and the fact that the volunteers work has now enabled us to predict when a storm will hit Earth is a significant milestone, not just for the project, but for science as a whole. In the past, solar scientists were only certain an approaching storm was directed towards Earth a few hours ahead, but data now allows them to be identified up to three days in advance. It enables space agencies and power companies to take steps to limit any damage. In order to identify hazardous activity, the solar winds need to be monitored constantly - a task that is too much for scientists to deal with on their own. Elizabeth Baeten, a Solar Stormwatch user, said: I feel immensely privileged to be a part of this early-warning system and its fun too. Knowing that every time you measure a storm your data is adding to a better prediction of speed and direction is amazing - you are right there making a difference. A short tutorial on the Solar Stormwatch website introduces users to the basic concepts of solar activity and shows them what to look out for. Users can then take part in a number of spotting activities using images from NASAs STEREO spacecraft - a pair of satellites in orbit around the Sun. Once a keen-eyed user has identified a storm, Solar Stormwatch members are then asked to mark its progress across the STEREO images using the 'Trace It activity. Finally, scientists use this information to work out the speed and direction of the storm and predict when it will arrive at Earth. The UK has a major input in STEREO, providing the two widest-field instruments - the Heliospheric Imagers - which provide Solar Stormwatch with its data. Telegraph