A huge solar storm could light up our atmosphere with the Northern Lights.
As we recently reported, many people in the United States could be treated to a spectacular aurora borealis light show on New Year’s Eve. But it may not be all it’s cracked up to be.
A huge blast of particles from the surface of the sun on Dec. 28 is sending solar winds our way, which will collide with our magnetic field and create the spectacular light shows we know as the auroras or Nothern Lights. But while this latest event is indeed strong enough to make the aurora borealis have a wider range than it usually has — the Nothern Lights are typically only visible at extreme northern latitudes — don’t expect to see it in your backyard if you live in the United States, according to a Washington Post report.
The reality is that only people very far north in the United States, like Oregon and perhaps parts of northern California are likely to even catch a glimpse of it, and they’re most likely to get a good glimpse if they’re flying in a plane at the time. If you live in the southern states, you’re out of luck.
A second problem is that the peak of the Northern Lights will be on Dec. 30, not New Year’s Eve, although it could last into the 31st. However, only minor geomagnetic storms were projected for Dec. 31, meaning that it is no longer likely to be viewable from anywhere in the United States by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around.
And at the end of the day, it is difficult period to see Northern Lights shows. The author of teh Post report noted that she went to Iceland, a good spot to see the Northern Lights, but even a little bit of sky interference from some clouds can ruin a chance to catch aurora borealis even during a large storm. The lights were faint even when they were visible in a completely clear sky.
Add to that the fact that residents of the Bay Area have city lights to contend with, and viewing the Northern Lights certainly won’t look like what you see in pictures, if you are lucky enough to see them at all.