ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – How many times can you say you’ve seen the Northern Lights in person?
Most of us, probably never.
However, thanks to a significant solar flare combined with a Coronal Mass Ejection from the sun that took place on Thursday, all of Canada and the northern third of the country will have a chance to see some spectacular visuals in the form of the Aurora Borealis, aka. “The Northern Lights.”
The Space Weather Prediction Center, yes, that’s a real thing, says that Saturday and Sunday, we are under a Strong Geomagnetic Storm Watch.
Solar flares consist of large eruptions of electromagnetic radiation from the Sun. They can normally last minutes to hours. The energy emitted from a solar flare travels at the speed of light which means that any effect upon the sunlit side of Earth’s exposed outer atmosphere occurs at the same time the event is observed.
Coronal Mass Ejections are large explosions of plasma and magnetic field from the sun’s corona and can eject billions of tons of coronal material along with an embedded magnetic field that is stronger than the background solar wind interplanetary magnetic field strength.
While all of this sounds out of this world, what can be produced from such an event is something that, when in the perfect area, given the perfect conditions, can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Much of the northern tier of the United States, as well as Canada, will have the chance to see the northern lights.
Further south, that risk dwindles a bit as visuals would be much closer to the horizon.
So, as long as the weather is clear, the map above will tell you where to look.
Unfortunately, for us, we’ve got plenty of clouds in place which will obstruct any view of the Northern Lights.
If you’re lucky enough to find a clear spot, be sure you’re looking toward the northern horizon and be sure you’re away from city lights for the best viewing.
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