Aurora Borealis can be seen tonight in Seattle, New York, Pittsburgh, Washington, and parts of the US Midwest. Forecasters call for a rare spectacular light show.
Thanks to a big solar flare that left the Sun Thursday, Accuweather.com is generating some buzz online by predicting a “dazzling” light show tonight.
“The flare is also expected to cause vibrant northern lights from the Arctic as far south as New York, the Dakotas, Washington and Michigan, with a smaller possibility of it going into Pennsylvania and Iowa, even Kansas. The lights are currently estimated for 8 p.m. EDT Saturday arrival, with a possible deviation of up to seven hours. If the radiation hits much after dark settles on the East Coast the lights may be missed and will instead only be visible for the West.”
They’ve also provided a pretty cool map (see above) that may or may not prove accurate.
Solar flares are waves of charged plasma that come streaming toward our planet at about four million miles per hour. When they hit the Earth’s upper atmosphere they release visible light and are channeled toward the Earth’s poles by the planet’s magnetic field. The norther aurora borealis is called the northern lights. The displays over the southern pole are called the southern lights or aurora australis.
This particular blast of plasma may also put on a light show over parts of Europe and Russia too. Accuweather says the British Isles, and as far south as the northern parts of Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, Latvia and Estonia may see the northern lights.
The opportunity to see the northern lights at many of these latitudes is a rare treat, but the usual caveats for celestial events still apply.