Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Don't miss out on your chance to see the aurora borealis in the U.S. 

Elizabeth Preske
February 16, 2018

The Northern Lights could be making a rare appearance in Michigan and northern Maine tonight.

Americans can thank a recent solar flare for this potential aurora borealis viewing, Live Science reported. On Monday, February 12, an explosion of energy on the sun's surface sent a combination of charged particles and radiation – coronal mass ejections, or CMEs – into the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in a geomagnetic storm over Scotland, Northern Ireland, Canada, and the northern United States.

Related: 5 Places in the United States Where You Can Spot the Northern Lights

On Friday, BBC weather forecaster Matt Taylor succinctly (and humorously) explained how the Northern Lights phenomena is the outcome of CME activity: “The sun gives all of those molecules a little bit of a tickle and they shine different colours of light.”

In other words, when the CMEs interact with oxygen, the molecules shine green and yellow, and red and purple when they interact with nitrogen.

Because of the geomagnetic storm, technology could go out of wack tonight, as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center is expecting disruptions in the power grid system. However, because the storm is minor, you might run into flickering lights, but not the more serious disruptions with radio waves, GPS coordinates, and electrical systems than can occur during major solar storms.

So if you find yourself in Michigan or Maine tonight, head outside and see if you can catch a glimpse of one of nature's most spectacular phenomena. No worries if you miss your chance to see them, though. Cities across Europe and Canada promise gorgeous views of the Northern Lights this March, and with spring break on the horizon, tonight's event is the perfect incentive to book a trip to see them in the Arctic Circle.

You May Like