The Northern Lights May Make Another Appearance in the U.S. This Weekend
Miss out last night? Here's another chance.
Over the Labor Day weekend the sun set off a massive solar storm cloud filled with superheated plasma, otherwise known as a coronal mass ejection (CME).
Traveling at more than 200 miles per second, that CME, which is harmless to humans, hit Earth overnight on Wednesday into Thursday morning and triggered a “geomagnetic storm” strong enough to cause the Northern Lights to be visible as far south as Ohio and Illinois.
But if you missed out on Wednesday’s aurora, fear not: There’s an even stronger solar storm heading our way.
As Space.com reported, a strong solar flare, “often associated with CMEs, was detected today (Sept. 6) at 8:02 a.m. ET, along with a weaker one.” This particular flare is so strong that it could degrade high-frequency radio communications and some low-frequency navigation systems, Space.com reported.
And while Space.com called the back-to-back flares notable, they are “by no means extreme,” Terry Onsager, a physicist at the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center, said.
The solar storm will however bring with it some more notable auroras. NASA has extended its geomagnetic storm watch through early Saturday thanks to this second, stronger, CME.
Because of the solar storm’s strength, NASA is once again predicting that the Northern Lights may be visible further south than usual, including the chance for visibility in upstate New York, Northern New England and again in Ohio and Illinois.
Now, the only thing standing in our way of viewing the lights is the moon and the weather. As New York Upstate reported, rain and clouds are expected to fill the night sky in that area, while the full moon’s light could damper the light-viewing experience.
But as Travel+Leisure previously reported, it’s still a good idea for anyone willing to chance it to drive out to a pitch-black area just in case between midnight and 2 a.m. You're guaranteed some prime stargazing regardless.