The Northern Lights May Be Visible Over Parts of the U.S. Tonight — Here's How to Spot Them

If you live in one of these states, you might be able to spot the northern lights from your backyard tonight.

This week, the Space Weather Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced G1 and G2 geomagnetic storm watches for Sept. 27 through Sept. 29. That means some lucky Americans might be able to spot the elusive northern lights from their very own backyards — if the conditions are right.

The aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, is a natural light display usually seen in high latitude areas — Norway, Iceland, Alaska, and northern Canada are among destinations known for their incredible northern lights viewing opportunities. During major geomagnetic storms, the northern lights can be seen in the northern United States, and this week, Americans will have the chance to spot this bucket list-worthy phenomenon for themselves.

Northern Lights Reflected In A Canadian River
Carl Young/EyeEm/Getty Images

According to a map shared by the NOAA, the northern lights could be seen in the Northeast including northern New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, northern Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, northern Idaho, and Washington. The northern lights are even more likely to be observed in Canada and Alaska.

If you live in one of these states, you’ll want to keep an eye on the sky tonight for your chance to spot the aurora, so here are some tips for northern lights chasers. According to the NOAA, there are a few main factors that determine whether you’ll see the northern lights. The level of geomagnetic activity and your location are most important — people in cities located at higher latitudes are more likely to see the phenomenon (you can find your city’s magnetic latitude on the NOAA website).

Try to go somewhere with little to no light pollution, and check the forecast to make sure there will be clear skies. Once you’re somewhere with clear, dark skies, look towards the northern horizon, and wait.

Elizabeth Rhodes is an associate digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her adventures on Instagram @elizabetheverywhere.

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