Meteorologists expect the Northern Lights to be visible this evening from parts of the northern United States and Canada, so those looking to view them should hope for clear, dark skies.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute predicts “very active auroras” over much of Canada and Alaska, extending southward across the upper Midwest, northern Great Plains and the northern New England, although places as far south as Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri may be lucky enough to see the phenomenon on the horizon.
However, cloud cover is expected in most Midwestern cities overnight, meaning cities like Minneapolis and Milwaukee will likely miss the show, but cities farther west like Boise, Idaho and Cheyenne, Wyoming, might have better luck.
The National Weather Service also forecasts clearer skies in South Dakota, most of Montana, western Minnesota, eastern Montana, eastern Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and some parts of North Dakota.
The US Space Weather Prediction Center is a little less optimistic, but predicts strong aurora borealis across much of Alaska and Canada, as well as a possible, but probably less intense, aurora borealis over Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Saturday evening, as well as in the far northern Pacific Northwest.
To see the Northern Lights, the sky must be clear and dark, according to the Geophysical Institute, and Saturday night’s viewing will also be made easier by the presence of only a sliver of the waning crescent moon.
The Northern Lights, or Northern Lights, are a natural phenomenon that occurs when electrically charged particles from the Sun enter the planet’s atmosphere and collide with gas molecules around the North Pole, creating an impressive spectacle of green , red, blue, pink and purple colors in the sky, according to the Geophysical Institute.
Scientists are able to predict whether an aurora borealis will be present by examining solar winds, according to the Geophysical Institute. If the solar winds are calm, the aurora borealis will likely be minimal, but if the solar winds are strong and disrupted, it is much more likely that a strong aurora borealis will be present. Scientists can use a number of satellites and spacecraft to monitor these solar winds.
The Geophysical Institute notes that while scientists are able to make predictions about the Northern Lights using these solar wind methods, it cautions that Northern Lights forecasts are less reliable than conventional weather forecasts, such as precipitation or temperature.
If cloud cover or other factors obscure the northern lights, those who want to see them may soon have other chances. According to the Geophysical Institute, it is generally from September to April that you have the best chance of seeing.
Tonight’s Northern Lights Forecast: How and Where to Watch (Forbes)