It's been a good year for those who love the chance to see the Northern Lights. For example, there was quite a show as recently as May of this year.
Northland residents who love a great, natural light show could once again be in for a big treat this week as Northern Lights are expected to be visible in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Northern Lights occur when a magnetic solar wind slams into the Earth’s magnetic field and causes atoms in the upper atmosphere to glow. The lights appear suddenly and the intensity varies from location to location.
A solar storm is reportedly expected Thursday and it's expected to give residents in 17 American states a chance to glimpse the Northern Lights, which happens when solar wind hits the atmosphere.
Northern Lights are commonly seen in Alaska, Canada, and Scandinavia, but an 11-year solar cycle that’s expected to peak in 2024 is making the lights visible in places farther to the south.
The Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks has forecast that Thursday's solar storm activity will make the Northern Lights visible in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Michigan, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Indiana, Maine, and Maryland.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center, the best Northern Lights viewing times are between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. Those looking to see the spectacle will need to a remote location, away from city lights.
A geomagnetic index known as Kp ranks auroral activity on a scale from zero to nine, with zero being not very active and nine being bright and active. For Thursday's storm, the Geophysical Institute has forecast Kp 6, so it should provide somewhat of a show for those lucky enough to spot it.
Hopefully, Mother Nature cooperates and skies will remain clear enough to catch a glimpse of the show this week!