Residents of New York and Chicago could see the phenomenon known as the aurora borealis (or Northern Lights) this weekend, according to reports.
U.S. weather officials say there will be a coronal mass ejection (CME) from the sun, which will give people the chance to take in one of the most famous natural spectacles on earth.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) posted a map on March 20, saying that a “G2 (Moderate) geomagnetic storm watch is in effect for the 23 March, 2019 … due to anticipated CME arrival.”
If said map is to be believed, the most likely area of an aurora event lies between the yellow and green lies, a spot encompassing parts of New York, Illinois, Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington state, Iowa, Michigan, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.
The NOAA also said: “An asymmetric halo CME was observed in SOHO/LASCO coronagraph imagery and initial analysis of the CME in both LASCO and STEREO-A coronagraph imagery shows an Earth-directed component is likely.”
Direct Hit! Both #NOAA & #NASA prediction models agree we have an Earth-directed #solarstorm that will impact around 12pm March 23! This one is dense & strong so it could pack a decent punch! Expect #hamradio & #GPS disruptions on Earth’s nightside, plus #aurora to mid-latitudes! pic.twitter.com/H3carfQR5m
— Dr. Tamitha Skov (@TamithaSkov) 21 mars 2019
Speaking on the origins of the storm that could produce the spectacle, the NOAA said: “The largest storms that result from these conditions are associated with solar coronal mass ejections where a billion tons or so of plasma from the sun, with its embedded magnetic field, arrives at Earth. CMEs typically take several days to arrive at Earth, but have been observed, for some of the most intense storms, to arrive in as short as 18 hours.”
— LaS.Shelom (@LaSShelom) 22 mars 2019
It’s said that those hoping to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis will improve their chances if they get away from cities where light pollution is present. You should aim for a clear sky in a rural area, with the aurora typically forming between 50 miles to 300 miles above the Earth’s surface.
If you’ve ever ventured to the far north and witnessed the Northern Lights for yourself, you’ll know how incredibly spectacular they can be to watch.
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