The Northern Lights may be easier to see across a broad swath of the U.S. on Wednesday and Thursday, the Space Weather Prediction Center said this week.
The SWPC, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), forecast geomagnetic storms from Dec. 9 to Dec. 11. And those could make the aurora borealis visible from New York and Massachusetts to the Midwest to Wyoming to Oregon.
The Earth’s magnetic field will collide with a phenomenon known as a mass coronal ejection, or a spurt of plasma from the sun, on Wednesday, the Des Moines Register reported. The resulting electromagnetic storm will escalate Thursday. In the process, it will expand the geographic area in which people can see the Northern Lights.
The NOAA warned on its website that those solar storms have their downsides.
“While the storms create beautiful aurora, they also can disrupt navigation systems such as the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) and create harmful geomagnetic induced currents (GICs) in the power grid and pipelines,” the NOAA said.
How easy it is to see the Northern Lights will depend on the weather in each region over the next few days. You’ll need clear skies to see them. And you’ll need to escape from the light pollution of cities.
“You’d have to get away from bigger cities with lights,” meteorologist Bryce Williams told MassLive. “The further north you go, the better chances you get.”
Try to go out between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., when the SWPC says the aurora borealis is most likely to be visible to those areas of the U.S. Look to the northern horizon rather than straight above you.
By Friday, the electromagnetic storm should be subsiding. So try to get out Wednesday or Thursday if you hope to catch the Northern Lights.