The Northern Lights may be visible in our area this week!
If you are outside at night this week, look up! There is a small chance you could experience the Northern Lights; a rare treat for this part of the globe.
NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a 72-hour magnetic storm watch this week, meaning the sun has released a CME (Coronal-Mass Ejection) that is heading quickly for Earth. This high-speed solar wind stream carries fast-moving charged particles that interact with the planet's poles, which cause Northern/Southern Lights displays.
A geomagnetic storm is headed towards Earth. Photo from NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center.
The best chance for viewing in and around the latitude of New York City is Wednesday night from 10 p.m. until 3 a.m. Thursday.
The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, most likely evoke vivid images of awe-inspiring, multicolored curtains in the sky. But we should temper our expectations of this event, as at best we can expect some faint green glows.
While the Northern Lights may be visible, it will be much more subdued that images you've seen online of on television. Photo from NOAA's Weather Prediction Center.
Something else we have to consider is the dense light pollution much of our area has. In order to have a chance to see this, you will need to get as far away from lights as possible.
Keep in mind that sometimes these events produce much smaller displays than expected, or even none at all. It's also possible that the peak of the event happens during the day and therefore can only be enjoyed on the other side of the world. But for those who have never seen the Northern Lights with their own two eyes, it may be worth it to try!