How do you see Aurora tonight?
Meteorologists expect the aurora borealis to be visible tonight from parts of the northern U.S. and Canada, so those looking to observe should hope for clear, dark skies.
The Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks predicts “very active auroral displays” will occur across much of Canada and Alaska, extending southward across the upper Midwest, northern Great Plains and northern New England, although places as far south as Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri may also be present. We have a chance to see this phenomenon on the horizon.
Cloud cover is expected in most Midwestern cities overnight, meaning cities like Minneapolis and Milwaukee will likely miss the show, but cities further west like Boise, Idaho, and Cheyenne, Wyoming, may have better luck.
The National Weather Service is also forecasting clearer skies in South Dakota, most of Montana, western Minnesota, eastern Montana, eastern parts of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and parts of North Dakota.
The U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center is somewhat less optimistic, but it predicts strong auroras over much of Alaska and Canada, as well as a possible, but likely less intense, aurora over Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. . Saturday evening, as well as the far northern parts of the Pacific Northwest.
To see the aurora, the sky must be clear and dark, according to the Geophysical Institute, and Saturday night’s viewing will also be helped by the presence of only a small sliver of the waning crescent.
The aurora borealis, or northern lights, are a natural phenomenon that occurs when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the planet’s atmosphere and collide with gas molecules around the north pole, creating a stunning display of green, red, blue, pink and yellow. Purple colors in the sky, according to the Geophysical Institute.
Scientists can predict the presence of the aurora by examining the solar wind, according to the Geophysical Institute. If the solar wind is calm, aurora displays are likely to be minimal, but if the solar wind is strong and turbulent, strong aurora displays are likely. Scientists can use a number of satellites and spacecraft to monitor these solar winds.
The Geophysical Institute notes that while scientists are able to make predictions about the aurora using solar wind methods, it warns that aurora predictions are less reliable than typical weather forecasts, such as precipitation or temperature.
What to watch for?
If cloud cover or other factors obscure the northern lights, those interested in seeing them may have other opportunities soon. September through April typically has the highest number of sighting opportunities, according to the Geophysical Institute.
Northern Lights Forecast Tonight: How and Where to Watch (Forbes)
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(Tags for translation)Northern Lights Forecast