The amazing Northern Lights are going to be on display -- and you might be able to see them yourself.
Good news, Americans: in some states, you’ll be able to witness the amazing Northern Lights.
It’s a sight normally reserved for those in the extreme northern regions closer to the North Police, but this aurora borealis will be so wide-ranging that it will be visible in several U.S. states, according to an SFGate.com report.
A huge solar eruption has sent supercharged particles speeding toward Earth, where it will collide with the Earth’s magnetic field and produce the amazing visuals we associate with the Northern Lights. They will be visible just before New Year’s Eve at certain latitutdes, and it may dip to as low as Oregon and the Bay Area on the West Coast — depending on the overall strength of the storm.
The storm will come as a result of a huge M1.9 class solar flare that erupted on Monday from the surface of the sun and should be visible this morning. It may stay visible into New Year’s Eve.
The flare should cause a G3 class geomagnetic storm, which the NOAA classifies as a strong storm on a range of G1 to G5, with G5 being the strongest. A G4 storm, much less common, would be visible deep into California.
The best way to view the aurora borealis may be by flying early in the morning on December 30th in this area. It should be most visible between 2 and 6 a.m. today on the West Coast.
An aurora, or a polar light, is a natural display caused by solar winds ejected from the sun’s surface that collide with the magnetic field generated by the Earth, resulting in charged particles that shimmer and glow. Because they interact mainly with the poles, they are generally only viewable in the upper and lower latitudes, unless the storm is extremely strong.
“The dancing lights of the aurora provide spectacular views on the ground, but also capture the imagination of scientists who study incoming energy and particles from the sun,” NASA describes auroras on its website. “Aurora are one effect of such energetic particles, which can speed out from the sun both in a steady stream called the solar wind and due to giant eruptions known as coronal mass ejections or CMEs. After a trip toward Earth that can last two to three days, the solar particles and magnetic fields cause the release of particles already trapped near Earth, which in turn trigger reactions in the upper atmosphere in which oxygen and nitrogen molecules release photons of light. The result: the Northern and Southern lights.
“NASA’s suite of heliophysics spacecraft track how events on the sun affect near-Earth space, including several missions dedicated to aurora studies. Auroras are but one symptom of a larger space weather system in which solar material and radiation can affect Earth’s own magnetic environment and block radio communications, disturb onboard satellite computers, or — at their worst — cause electrical surges in power grids.”