Cities as far south as New York and Chicago may see the Northern Lights on Saturday due to an unusual geomagnetic storm, meteorologists said.
A giant cloud of charged particles from the solar corona — the layer of gas surrounding the sun — known as a coronal mass ejection (CME) is expected to arrive on Saturday.
This in turn could increase the reach and intensity of the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, to parts of the northern US over the weekend, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said.
Northern Lights expected to be visible in Rochester area this weekend
Meteorologist Joe Charlevoix tweeted that the Northern Lights would likely be visible on Saturday night. “This is not a guarantee but conditions are favorable,” he said.
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According to the NOAAs graph, some parts of states like Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Pennsylvania might be able to see the lights:
Northern lights may be visible in New York this weekend
Laura Tobin, a weather presenter for UK breakfast show Good Morning Britain, said that some northern areas of Britain could also see the Northern Lights.
There are many kinds of eruptions on the sun. Solar flares and coronal mass ejections both involve gigantic explosions of energy, but are otherwise quite different. The two phenomena do sometimes occur at the same time—indeed the strongest flares are almost always correlated with coronal mass ejections—but they emit different things, they look and travel differently, and they have different effects near planets, NASA explained in 2014.
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The phenomenon is due to the combination of the oncoming CME and a small solar flare — a sudden, high-energy blast of increased brightness on the sun — that hit on Wednesday, the NOAA said.
According to the map, the most likely area of an aurora event is between the green line and the yellow line, which appears to encompass parts of New York, northern Illinois (including Chicago), Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington state, Iowa, Michigan, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.
Hundreds of thousands of people travel to northern regions like Iceland, Norway, and Alaska every year to see the Northern Lights.
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A dazzling sky phenomenon known as the Northern Lights might be visible in parts of New Jersey and New York this weekend, experts say.
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In case you missed the final supermoon of 2019, theres another sky show that could be worth checking out this weekend. A dazzling atmospheric light show known as the Northern Lights might be visible from parts of New Jersey and New York state, experts say.
You might be able to see the northern lights on Saturday
Also known as the aurora borealis, the Northern Lights are typically visible in the far northern United States, in Canada, Alaska and other places well north of the Garden State. However, a large solar flare on March 20 triggered a fairly intense geomagnetic storm that is expected to reach our planet this weekend, so some of the colorful lights may be seen in places that normally dont get a good view.
How far south the lights will be visible is still uncertain, but it is possible sky watchers in northern New Jersey and upstate New York could catch a glimpse, said Patrick OHara, a meteorologist at the National Weather Services regional office in New Jersey.
OHara recommends finding the darkest spot possible and looking at the northern sky, preferably from a high vantage point where you can see the horizon.
The sky has got to be mostly dark to increase your odds of seeing the northern lights, OHara said. Unfortunately, that March supermoon that everyone was buzzing about two days ago will still be nearly full Friday night and Saturday night, making it a bit tougher to see the northern lights.
This is what the Northern Lights can look like if viewing conditions are ideal and the colors are vivid. (Pixabay.com)
The Northern Lights are created when large numbers of electrically charged particles (electrons) at high speed stream in towards the earth along its magnetic field and collide with the highest air particles, according to the Tromso Geophysical Observatory at the Arctic University of Norway.
The air then lights up rather like what happens in a fluorescent light tube, the observatory notes. The resulting colors reflect which gases we find up there, the most usual yellow-green color coming from oxygen.
The marvel appears in many shades, but pale green and pink are the most common, says TheActiveTimes.com. Hues of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet have been reported in certain places, including in Pennsylvania.
The Northern Lights may be visible as far south as the central Plains, Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic regions tonight and tomorrow night! pic.twitter.com/E2nAI5DO2N
Since there are still some questions over exactly when the geomagnetic storm will arrive in our atmosphere, its tough to pin down the best viewing times for the Northern Lights. Some experts say late Friday night into early Saturday morning might be the best window of opportunity, and some say Saturday night could be good.
In addition to finding dark skies away from the glare of city lights, observers will also need a little luck from Mother Nature, with clear skies needed.
Northern Lights possibly visible in the DMV this weekend
As of now, the National Weather Service is calling for mostly cloudy skies in northern New Jersey Friday night, with strong wind gusts and cold air moving in, and clear skies Saturday night.
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Len Melisurgo may be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @LensReality or like him on Facebook. Find NJ.comon Facebook.