NASA says the recent energy shots from the sun, called Coronal Mass Ejections or CMEs, were weak CMEs. NASA says, however, that the combined strength of the three CMEs should disturb Earths magnetosphere enough to produce northern lights over the next few days.
NASA says the CMEs occurred around May 12. The animation above shows the sunspot pointed at Earth while energy was being shot out of the sunspot.
If you missed out on the view last night, The Space Prediction Center reports another geomagnetic storm could arrive later this week, making Aurora viewing possible the the nights of May 15 and 16.
Currently NASA predicts the brunt of the energy to arrive at Earths magnetosphere on May 15 and May 16. The diagram below shows where NASA currently forecasts the southern extent of the northern lights.
We have a weak rain system moving through Michigan Wednesday into Thursday. I wouldnt get too down that skies will be entirely cloudy. Clouds will likely be patchy.
Dazzling auroras could be visible in the night sky as far south as upstate New York THIS WEEK
As I wrote earlier this year, northern lights forecasting has few data points and chances for forecast updates.
Lets just keep this in the back of our minds for a possible northern lights viewing Wednesday night or Thursday night.
Aurora Borealis vividly paints the night sky in northern Ohio
It may seem funny coming from me, a meteorologist, to question a forecast. Ive seen the more likely northern lights forecasts not show northern lights. Ive also seen low chance forecasts end up with vibrant northern lights. This is one reason northern lights remain so elusive to see, and exciting to hunt.
A geomagnetic storm is headed toward Earths atmosphere and could bring back-to-back auroras in the north three nights in a row.
The NOAAs Space Weather Prediction Center issued a storm watch earlier this week for Wednesday into Thursday and has since extended the forecast into Friday.
It means Earth could be feeling minor effects from a series of coronal mass ejections emitted by the sun since May 10, including weak power grid disturbances.
The incoming storm also means people in some northern latitudes, including parts of the United States, could have a chance to spot the Northern Lights.
Aurora spotted over West Michigan
At its strongest, the storm will reach the G2 or moderate level, which poses little threat to activities on the ground. It will, however, spur brilliant light displays also known as the Northern Lights visible to northern latitudes, between green and yellow lines in the map above
The Northern and Southern Lights are natural light spectacles triggered in our atmosphere that are also known as the Auroras.
Northern Lights could stretch into lower Michigan this week
There are two types of Aurora – Aurora Borealis, which means dawn of the north, and Aurora Australis, dawn of the south.
The displays light up when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the Earths atmosphere.
Usually the particles, sometimes referred to as a solar storm, are deflected by Earths magnetic field.
But during stronger storms they enter the atmosphere and collide with gas particles, including hydrogen and helium.
Surprise auroras lit up the night! Now watch for the encore!
These collisions emit light. Auroral displays appear in many colours although pale green and pink are common.