The sun has been throwing out some major magnetic storms recently. According to scientists, thanks to all of this solar activity, parts of the United States will likely get a better-than-usual view of the aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights.
According to predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, tonight’s view of the northern lights could be seen as far south as Illinois and Oregon. Other states that may get a glimpse of colors in the night sky include:
- New York
- Rhode Island
3 CMEs already inbound; now the addition of a 4th prompted SWPC forecasters to upgrade the 1 Dec Watch to a G3. This faster-moving CME will likely merge with upstream CMEs & arrive at Earth on 1 Dec UTC-day making G3 levels possible. Visit https://t.co/9n7phHb5ok for more info. pic.twitter.com/aiSMfDt2mU
— NOAA Space Weather (@NWSSWPC) November 29, 2023
If you are in a region with the potential to see the northern lights, you’ll want to find a dark location with minimal visible light to get the best view. Keep your eye on the northern part of the sky at the horizon level. Auroras are not always constant, though. So keep looking towards the sky to catch the sudden bursts of light and color that could pop up.
Why is the aurora borealis visible tonight, though? For that, you’ll need to understand what causes the lights to begin with.
The northern lights appear in the sky when “energized particles from the sun slam into Earth’s upper atmosphere up to 45 million miles per hour,” according to Space.com. Our planet’s magnetic field redirects those particles to the north and south poles. That transference of energy causes the lights we see in the northern and southern skies.
NOAA officials have upgraded the geomagnetic storm watch level to a strong G3. The agency ranks these solar-based storms from a G1 (lowest) to G5 (highest). The higher the number, the more likely Earth will experience radio frequency issues and the possibility of seeing the northern lights.
As for tonight, Nov. 30, a combination of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) will merge, causing higher-than-usual electromagnetic activity. This could result in the aurora being visible farther south in the US than usual. Tonight is also supposed to be the peak of activity, so you’ll want to get outside and take a look if you’re in one of the lucky locations.
Those outside of the predicted states and those unable to view due to weather conditions can always check out Explore.com and other webcams that offer a live stream of the aurora borealis. Sure, you might not be catching the show in real life, but streaming isn’t so bad. And hey, if you’ve got the travel bug, you can always book a trip because there are a few U.S. locations to see the northern lights.
See the northern lights in parts of the US tonight originally appeared on Simplemost.com, helping make the most out of life.