Best Chance in Years to See Northern Lights This Weekend

Best Chance in Years to See Northern Lights This Weekend

A severe geomagnetic storm watch has been declared by the National Weather Service Space Weather Prediction Center, marking the first occurrence since January 2005. The storm, rated at G4 on a scale where five represents the highest severity, has been forecasted to impact Earth's magnetic field from May 10 and could continue affecting it over the weekend. This event follows significant solar activity, including large coronal mass ejections linked to an 11-year solar cycle.

The storm's arrival could enable auroral displays, commonly known as the Northern Lights, to be visible much further south than usual, potentially as far south as Alabama and Northern California in the United States, and across parts of the UK and Ireland. Optimal viewing conditions are expected in areas with minimal light pollution, and observers are advised to look north after sunset for the best chances of witnessing the phenomenon.

Experts have noted that the solar activity responsible for this event is due to a particularly large sunspot, comparable in size to the one involved in the Carrington Event of 1859. While the aurora is often visible in the Arctic region, it is a rare occurrence for such displays to be seen at lower latitudes. However, clear skies across various regions could enhance visibility prospects for stargazers.

The NOAA warns that the storm could also disrupt satellite and radio communications, affecting GPS services and potentially impacting electrical infrastructure. Environment and Climate Change Canada has reported clear forecasts, indicating that clouds should not obstruct the views of the auroras in Canada, where they are also expected to be seen.


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