Northern Lights: Where can they be seen in the US on Saturday night?

Aurora borealis most visible in northern states

Mike Bedigan
Saturday 11 May 2024 21:07
Northern Lights illuminate sky over Wisconsin

The Northern Lights will be visible across large parts of the US on Saturday night after the phenomenon was triggered around the world due to a massive solar storm.

Incredible images showed that the aurora borealis’ bands of pink, purple and green appeared in the sky over many states on Friday night.

A new forecast map suggests that there is a strong chance that the lights will be visible in parts of Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota on Saturday.

Other states where it will be possible to view the phenomenon include Oregon, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowan and Wisconsin, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center.

Aurora forecast in the northern US on May 11 2024, from NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (NOAA)

Though Saturday’s emergence will be more limited, it is possible to observe the lights from as far as 620 miles away, according to the National Weather Service.

The forecaster advises that to have a better chance of seeing the phenomenon, people should get away from city lights into a “dark, rural surrounding” and look north. The lights are not visible during daylight hours.

The aurora borealis is the result of an extreme geomagnetic storm, triggered by solar flares, which caused the phenomenon to be more visible, according to NOAA.

Several strong flares have been observed over the last few days and were associated with a large and magnetically complex sunspot structure, which is 16 times the diameter of earth.

Northern Lights visible in Chicago amid strong solar storm

“This is an unusual and potentially historic event,” said Clinton Wallace, Director, NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

The incredible views were seen by people from Alabama to San Francisco on Friday night. Announcing the “rare” development on Thursday, NOAA noted that it was the first geomagnetic watch since 2005.

Friday’s night’s solar storm pushed the lights much further south than normal, with people in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and other Midwestern states also able to capture photos of colors along the horizon.

The Northern Lights were also seen across the UK, including in Edinburgh, Newcastle and Liverpool, and parts of Europe on Friday night – with people posting photos of red, purple and lime green flashes illuminating the sky.

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