While the Northern Lights are most visible in northern Canada and Alaska, residents in parts of Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Michigan and a host of other states could get a rare chance to see the dazzling sky show if there are no clouds.
A Geomagnetic Storm Watch was issued Wednesday through Friday, Dec. 11 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center.
A solar flare ejected from the sun Monday turned into what’s known as a coronal mass ejection which is a cloud of excited particles, according to NBC 10 Boston. Those particles, which can trigger a geomagnetic storm, are headed straight for earth, bringing hope that the Northern Lights will be visible across numerous northern states.
So there is a lot of buzz about potential #SolarStorm heading our way. The SWPC issued a G3 Geomagnetic Storm Watch for Thursday, Dec 10th. Yellow line on the map shows the furthest southward potential for the #NorthernLights could be observed.https://t.co/peTr0Sbefw#OHwx #PAwx pic.twitter.com/4RMWXcZYTB
— NWS Cleveland (@NWSCLE) December 9, 2020
“When the charged particles from the sun strike atoms and molecules in Earth’s atmosphere, they excite those atoms, causing them to light up,” explains Earth Sky, noting that an aurora occurs when atoms get excited and emit “brilliant colors.”
Spaceweather.com says the lights will likely be most visible Dec. 10. (RELATED: Giant Star That’s Acting Strange Could Explode Soon, Scientists Say)
“NOAA forecasters expect the most intense disturbances to occur Dec. 10th with peak storm levels near category G3. If that happens, auroras could be sighted in the USA in states as far south as, e.g., Illinois and Oregon.”
Meteorologist at WKOW 27 News in Wisconsin Max Tsaparis told his Twitter followers to “look up” Wednesday night to hopefully catch a glimpse of the light show.
— Max Tsaparis (@MaxTsaparis) December 9, 2020
Sky enthusiasts in states like Connecticut and New Jersey may also see the Northern Lights, though it may be more difficult in states like Connecticut due to light pollution, according to NBC Connecticut. However, NBC Connecticut recommends those who want to see the lights should find a dark area away from any city lights between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. and look north.
In New Jersey those hopeful to see the lights have to hope for clear skies, and even then, they may only see faint green glows, according to nj.com.
New York and Massachusetts could have a clearer view if the clouds disperse Thursday night as anticipated, according to NBC 10 Boston. While the lights can sometimes be seen in parts of New England, it’s rare that they’re seen directly overhead, according to the report.