Weather permitting, tonight you could see the aurora borealis, or northern lights in Yellowknife, Calgary, Edmonton, all of Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, northern Ontario and as far south as North Dakota and Minnesota.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center, the northern lights could be seen as far south as Washington, Illinois, Michigan, and even down the Rockies in Colorado.
Aurora forecasters are predicting “high auroral activity” Thursday night and Friday morning.
Forecasters at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center anticipate a strong geomagnetic storm when the shock wave reaches Earth tomorrow (Thursday) morning at about 8:00 Universal Time.
This arrival time corresponds to 3 a.m. on the East Coast and midnight on the West Coast. With the first-quarter Moon confined to the evening sky, the viewing prospects are excellent for a major auroral display, Sky and Telescope revealed.
The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights are collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere.
“The CME [coronal mass ejection] is forecast to set off G3 (Strong) Geomagnetic Storm activity through January 9 and 10,” NOAA wrote on its prediction center site on Wednesday. “Aurora watchers should be ready.”
Federal space weather forecaster Joe Kunches said the sun shot out a strong solar flare late Tuesday, which should arrive at Earth early Thursday. It should shake up Earth’s magnetic field and expand the Aurora Borealis south. He predicts, possibly as far south as Colorado and central Illinois. The best viewing for the aurora borealis would be Thursday evening, weather permitting.
“These particles cannot travel through the atmosphere to harm humans on Earth, but they can affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground,” NASA said in a statement. “When intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. This disrupts the radio signals for as long as the flare is ongoing, anywhere from minutes to hours.”
“The northern lights are going to be really good for some of the northern US Thursday night,” said 7NEWS meteorlogist Matt Makens. “Thursday night (midnight to dawn) will be your best shot, if you are away from the city lights to look north for the aurora.”
The Aurora Borealis are usually green in color, but can sometimes turn blue and red making for an amazing display in the nights sky.
Chance to see Northern Lights
Iowans thawing out from a bitter freeze may get rewarded with shimmering northern lights the next couple days.