Look Up Tonight for a Chance to See the Northern Lights Over the U.S.
A solar storm may bring the Northern Lights down to the United States this week.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center said there’s a 50- to 60-percent chance of the solar storm continuing through at least Thursday night.
Over last weekend, the sun developed a hole in its corona, the star’s uppermost atmosphere. From a coronal hole, hot plasma pours out into space along with “intense gusts of solar wind,” according to National Geographic.
These gusts of wind flew across space and have reached Earth. When they do, they send charged particles which “buffet Earth’s magnetosphere causing overall, planetary geomagnetic responses,” according to the Space Weather Prediction Center. This effect is what causes the fantastic auroras in the sky.
On Tuesday night, the vivid auroras showed up in the northern U.S., including fantastic displays in the western part of the country and even an appearance in New York state.
There’s a chance that skywatchers in the U.S. will be able to see the Northern Lights in the sky again on Thursday night.
Anybody who lives north of 40 degrees latitude (a line that cuts through Philadelphia and Denver) and has clear skies should look up — although there are a few spots that have better chances. (Of course, among U.S. states, Alaska has the best shot.)
Skywatchers in the Arctic Circle and southern tip of South America (for the southern aurora) will have the best chances of spotting the light display, but those in places like New York, London and Seattle could also catch a glimpse.