The solar storm forecast for Thursday is expected to give skygazers in some states along the US-Canada border a small glimpse of the northern lights that—at their peak—create a colorful display. in the sky when the solar wind hits the atmosphere.
The northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, are most commonly seen in Alaska, Canada and Scandinavia, but the 11-year solar cycle expected to peak in 2024 has the potential to see the lights further south. . Three months ago, light displays were visible in Arizona, marking the third severe geomagnetic storm since the current solar cycle began in 2019.
The Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks predicted auroral activity on Thursday, based on a long-term outlook.
Auroral activity is also predicted for Canada.
Those in small slices of the contiguous US—including parts of Wisconsin, Michigan and Montana—can also see. But for them, the aurora will probably be a “faint glow on the horizon” said Lt. Bryan Brasher, a project manager for NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center said that people who want to experience the aurora should stay away from city lights and that the best viewing time is between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. local time.
The northern lights occur when a magnetic solar wind strikes Earth’s magnetic field and causes atoms in the upper atmosphere to glow. The lights appear suddenly and the intensity varies.
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