We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

Northern Lights: Coming to a Sky Near You?

ImaGeo iconImaGeo
By Tom Yulsman
Jan 9, 2014 1:30 PMNov 20, 2019 2:10 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

A massive solar flare erupting from the sun on Tuesday was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft. (Source: NASA/SDO) The massive flare that erupted from the sun on Tuesday could bring beautiful displays of the Northern Lights as far south as Colorado late on Thursday night and early Friday morning. Click on the screenshot above to watch a movie of the solar flare captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft.

Aurora forecast. (Source: University of Alaska Geophysical Institute) It was associated with a huge eruption of material called a coronal mass ejection. Now, that material is racing toward Earth and is expected to trigger a strong geomagnetic storm — a disturbance to Earth's protective magnetic bubble called the magnetosphere. It's that kind of disturbance that triggers the Northern Lights. The University of Alaska's Geophysical Institute predicts that auroral activity will be high on Thursday:

Weather permitting, highly active auroral displays will be visible overhead from Inuvik, Yellowknife, Rankin and Igaluit to Juneau, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay and Sept-Iles, and visible low on the horizon from Seattle, Des Moines, Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, and Halifax.

The Denver Post is reporting that displays of the aurora could even reach where I live near Boulder, Colorado. "This is very rare, especially for as far south as Denver and Boulder," Joe Kunches, a forecaster with the federal Space Weather Prediction Center, told the Post. There are no guarantees, of course. Clouds could obscure the view, city lights could wash it out, the solar material could arrive earlier or later than forecast, affecting visibility, etc. For the latest updates on what might happen, check the Space Weather Prediction Center here. Happy viewing!

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.