BOULDER, Colorado (KSL.com) — Sky watchers in 17 American states are expected to get a chance to see the northern lights, the colorful sky show that occurs when solar wind hits the atmosphere. A solar storm is predicted to hit on Thursday.
Alaska, Canada, and Scandinavia are the most common places to see the northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis. However, a solar cycle that lasts 11 years and is expected to end in 2024 is making the lights visible in places further south. 90 days prior, the light shows were apparent in Arizona, denoting the third serious geomagnetic storm since the ongoing sun oriented cycle started in 2019.
On Thursday, auroral activity is predicted to occur in Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Indiana, Maine, and Maryland, according to the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.
Canada, including Vancouver, has also been predicted to see activity from the aurora.
In Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and Helena, Montana, light displays are anticipated to be visible overhead, while they will be low on the horizon in Salem, Oregon. Boise, Idaho; Wyoming’s Cheyenne; Annapolis, Maryland; and Indianapolis, the institute claims.
According to the Space Weather Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, people who want to see the aurora should stay away from city lights and look best between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. local time.
When a magnetic solar wind collides with the Earth’s magnetic field, atoms in the upper atmosphere glow, resulting in the Northern Lights. The lights appear quickly and vary in intensity.
On a scale from zero to nine, the geomagnetic index Kp ranks auroral activity, with zero representing low activity and nine representing high activity. The Geophysical Foundation has conjecture Kp 6 for Thursday’s tempest.