- A geomagnetic storm is said to be hitting Earth on Saturday, which is expected to cause northern lights in northern regions of the globe.
- The northern lights could potentially be seen in the northern-most United States.
- The northern lights will be most visible at night when it’s dark.
People who wouldn’t usually expect to see colourful northern lights may get a chance to experience the night sky show on Saturday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) issued a moderate geomagnetic storm watch alert on Friday, saying that the storm watch is in effect for Saturday.
According to NOAA’s chart, the northern lights will likely extend down to upstate New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana, northern Idaho, and Washington state.
The geomagnetic storm that’s causing the northern lights began on Friday, but the lights themselves are only likely to be visible at night.
When to look out for the northern lights
Residents in the northern-most United States will have the highest chance of seeing the northern lights when it gets dark on Saturday.
The sun will begin to set in New York and northeastern states at 7:11 p.m.
According to NOAA’s forecast, the northern lights will be most visible in the northeastern United States starting at around 10:55 p.m.
The Canadian Space Agency’s tips on how to watch the northern lights
Despite the unusually high likelihood that people further south on Earth could see the northern lights, catching them won’t be a given. Luckily, the Canadian Space Agency has some tips which we’ve quoted below:
- Consult the weather forecast before leaving. Cloud cover obscures the aurora.
- If possible, choose a night without moonlight. The bright glare of the Moon-especially the full Moon-illuminates the night sky and makes fainter auroras invisible. (BI: Unfortunately, the moon will be 92% illuminated on Saturday night, making for less ideal conditions to see the northern lights clearly).
- Dress warmly and choose a location with dark skies. Light pollution from bright city lights makes it difficult to see the aurora.
- If the aurora is moving slowly, keep your eyes peeled! The intensity can change very rapidly at any moment.
- Look around you in all directions. During periods of heightened activity, the aurora can appear anywhere in the sky, not just on the northern horizon.
Some experts aren’t too optimistic
“I would not drive out of my way for this particular event,” said Terry Onsager, a physicist at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, told The New York Times. Onsager said there’s no guarantee that the geomagnetic storm will actually hit earth, and if it does, it will do so in the middle of the day on Saturday when the northern lights are least visible. The best chance to see the lights would be at night.
There might also be cloud cover in many parts of the northeast, according to Ohio-based NBC4 meteorologist Ben Gelber, who also spoke with The New York Times.
Despite Gelber’s predictions about cloud cover, it’s still a good idea to look at your own area’s weather forecast. Syracuse, NY, where the northern lights could potentially be seen, is forecasted for a clear night on Saturday.
You can always watch the northern lights being streamed online below
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