A solar storm forecast on Thursday is expected to give skywatchers in 17 US states a chance to glimpse the Aurora Borealis, a colorful sky show that occurs when solar winds the sky touches the atmosphere.
Auroras, also known as auroras, are most commonly seen in Alaska, Canada, and Scandinavia, but the 11-year solar cycle is expected to peak in 2024 making light visible in those regions. farther south. Three months ago, the visible light display in Arizona marked the third most severe geomagnetic storm since the current solar cycle began in 2019.
The Institute of Geophysics at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks has forecast aurora activity on Thursday in Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, New Hampshire , Vermont, Indiana, Maine and Maryland.
Aurora activity has also been forecast for Canada, including Vancouver.
The light displays are expected to show overhead in Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Helena, Montana, and low on the skyline in Salem, Oregon.; Boise, Idaho; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Annapolis, Maryland; and Indianapolis, according to the institute.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center says those wanting to experience the aurora should stay away from city lights, and the best viewing time is between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. , local time.
Auroras occur when a magnetic solar wind crashes into Earth’s magnetic field and causes atoms in the upper atmosphere to glow. The lights come on suddenly and in varying intensity.
A geomagnetic index called Kp ranks aurora activity on a scale of 0 to 9, with 0 being very inactive and 9 being bright and active. The Institute of Geophysics had forecast Kp 6 for Thursday’s storm.