Cannibal’ solar storm could cause auroras today: where and how to watch the northern lights in the US?
There is a strong chance that several states across the US could see a light show in the sky. Here’s where the aurora borealis could be seen 30 November.
Residents of several states across the could witness one of the most impressive astronomical phenomena there is: the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights.
According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Space Weather Prediction Center meteorologists, there is a high possibility that a G3 category, or strong, geomagnetic storm will occur on the tonight. Thursday 30 November, which will result in the illumination of the sky in some areas of the country. The dancing light display is expected to begin around 7:00 p.m. ET.
The phenomenon is the result of four coronal mass ejections that occurred throughout the week. The European Space Agency defines coronal mass ejections as “eruptions of particles from the solar atmosphere that blast out into the Solar System and have the potential to trigger space weather at Earth,” which results in the impressive phenomena on Earth.
Aurora Borealis in the USA tonight: In which states can it be seen?
According to projections from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), northern parts of Minnesota, Montana and North Dakota have the highest probability of witnessing an aurora borealis tonight. But should you be beyond the bright city lights, those possibly as far south of an arc running roughly from Portland, Oregon; Boise, Idaho; Lincoln, Nebraska; Champaign, Illinois; Akron, Ohio; to Boston, Massachusetts could see the Northern Lights on the horizon. Those farther north of that from Washinton State to Michigan may be able to see the spectacle overhead.
To appreciate the phenomenon, the agency recommends going to more rural places and avoiding urban lighting, since it will be in those areas where the sky will be clearer. It is worth mentioning that these types of phenomena are very difficult to predict, so there is no certainty that the aurora can be seen 100%.
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What is an aurora borealis?
According to National Geographic, the northern lights are the result of the interaction between gases in the Earth’s atmosphere with the solar wind and occur exactly when the ions leave shot from the Sun in all directions.
“When the solar wind reaches Earth, it slams into the planet’s magnetic field, producing currents of charged particles that flow toward the poles. Some of the ions become trapped in a layer of the atmosphere called the ionosphere, where they collide with gas atoms—primarily oxygen and nitrogen—and ‘excite’ them with extra energy,” explains the aforementioned outlet, which releases the energy in the form of light particles or photons resulting in the amazing spectacle.