Due to a geomagnetic storm that will affect the atmosphere in the middle of the week, seventeen U.S. states may catch a peek of the Northern Lights this week.
On Wednesday, viewers will be able to see the Northern Lights, also known as the aurora borealis, in cities including Seattle, Des Moines, Iowa, Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The KP-index, which goes from 0 to 9 and measures worldwide auroral activity, will be at Kp-5 that evening. Any Kp-5 value or higher indicates the likelihood of a geomagnetic storm.
According to The Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska at Fairbank, the aurora will strengthen on Thursday as the KP-index rises, increasing the visibility of the bright lights.
Here are some important facts regarding the Northern Lights.
The Northern Lights: What are they?
An astronomical phenomena known as the Northern Lights is often seen at the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. The Northern Lights will be seen this week farther south than normal because of the solar storm.
According to the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, electrically charged solar wind particles that reach Earth's atmosphere and hit with gas molecules and atoms, mostly oxygen and nitrogen, are what generate the many colors of lights.
These particles cause the emission of light, which results in a stunning variety of hues in the sky. The hue of the aurora is often green, although it can change based on the location of the collisions, the makeup of the atmosphere, and its density.
Where and how would you be able to view them?
On July 12 and 13, the aurora borealis will be visible in parts of Washington, Idaho, Vermont, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Maryland, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, and Maine, according to the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. Parts of Canada will also be able to see the lights, including Vancouver.
In places like Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and Seattle, the aurora will be seen "low on the horizon". Cities like Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Helena, Montana will all have overhead lighting.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the optimum time to observe the aurora is between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. local time, however individuals should aim to avoid city lights for a better view. According to the NOAA, even the light from the full moon can weaken the aurora. Another piece of advice from experts is to locate a location with a "unobstructed view," thus ascending to higher ground would be helpful.
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On the NOAA website, anyone may look for aurora forecasts.
Since the Northern Lights were last spotted over 30 states in April, there have been four solar storms. The forthcoming storm will be the fifth since 2019.