The Northern Lights Might Be Visible Across the U.S. Tonight — Here's How to Spot Them

Keep your fingers crossed for clear skies.

Beautiful aurora in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Photo: Getty Images

We have some stellar news for stargazers out there. Tonight, you might have a chance to see the northern lights in the U.S.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks' Geophysical Institute, which issues aurora forecasts, predicts a spectacular show in the night sky. Specifically, using the Kp-index — the scale scientists use to rate geomagnetic activity around Earth — is indicating a level 5, which is considered high auroral activity.

"Weather permitting, highly active auroral displays will be visible overhead from Inuvik, Yellowknife, Rankin and Iqaluit to Vancouver, Helena, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Bay City, Toronto, Montpelier, and Charlottetown, and visible low on the horizon from Salem, Boise, Cheyenne, Lincoln, Indianapolis and Annapolis," writes the University of Alaska Fairbanks in its forecast, which also includes a map of where the aurora should be visible.

You can also head to the Space Weather Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to see an animated version of its aurora forecast placed over a map of the Earth.

If your location is within range on either of these maps, simply go outside to the darkest place you can find tonight and look up to the north. And for those in the southern half of the country who won't be able to catch the show live, you can tune into the University of Alaska Fairbanks' live stream here.

The predicted nighttime show follows a storm from earlier this week which gave a hint as to what stargazers may see tonight. On Wednesday, geomagnetic activity picked up over the continental United States, and the greens, pinks, and reds of the aurora borealis were seen as far south as Colorado.

Wednesday's storm was rated 3 out of 9 on the Kp-index. The magnetic storm is expected to continue through Saturday and perhaps even strengthen.

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