The Northern Lights Could Be Visible Over Some U.S. States Monday
Here's how to see them.
Seeing the northern lights from the comfort of your own US-based backyard is a rare occasion, but it isn’t an impossible one. If you catch the right time window and are blessed with ideal weather conditions, that is.
Some US states could actually see their aurora borealis dreams come true tonight. Yesterday, the UK Met Office shared photos on social media of some gorgeous northern lights spotting in the south of the country, which is a rare occurrence for the region. Some of the lights, according to spotters, were even seen in Germany. Parts of the US and North America where skies were clear last night, most notably Alaska, also caught a glimpse.
If you missed it last night, you're not out of luck, though. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), tonight all of Canada and Alaska should have front-row seats to catch the phenomenon, and residents of the region will have a high chance of seeing it. A handful of far northern states could catch a glimpse of tonight's aurora borealis, including the northernmost areas of Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Washington, and Wisconsin.
The reason behind these rare northern light occurrences is a pretty strong geomagnetic storm, according to the Met office. Two meteorological events, described as a "coronal hole high speed stream" and a "rather fast coronal mass ejection," arrived simultaneously, and they are both known for influencing geomagnetic storms. The current storm is ranked as G3, in fact, and is considered "strong" according to the NOAA scale. This makes for good northern light-viewing conditions.
As of this writing, here is the latest northern lights forecast for tonight, via the NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center:
How to see the northern lights
Currently, your best bet is to try and see it tonight when the geomagnetic storm will be at its peak. Tomorrow, there will still be a chance, but conditions will be weaker.
You do, however, need to be both lucky and prepared to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis. Previously an SWPC spokesperson told Thrillist that, in order for you to actually see it, "you need very clear skies, a good view of the northern horizon (no trees, buildings, or hills), and it needs to be dark." Dark sites and low-light pollution areas are your best bet in terms of location. You can check where the nearest dark site is right here, and you can also take a look at light pollution conditions on this map.
Obviously, the further north you are, the better your odds will be. You can, however, help your chances by tracking a few resources that will let you know about the northern lights conditions in real time. The SWPC has a handy tool that can help you, and through this resource you can access a 30-minute forecast of the aurora. You can find it right here. Additionally, you can also take a look at Aurorasaurus to help you plan your sighting sesh.