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Very small chance to see Northern Lights in the sky late Thursday night

Northern Lights
Northern Lights(WJRT)
Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 12:01 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - It’s a good thing our temperatures right now are mild for this time of the year. That’s because if you’re up for it, the clear skies and mild overnight temperatures give off a better reason to go outside and try to catch the Northern Lights in our skies.

A very strong Geomagnetic storm is currently taking place in our atmosphere and will help aid in bringing the Northern Lights further south than usual. This means that for our region, it gives us a slightly higher than normal chance to see the lights. This happens when the sun has coronal mass ejection sending solar activity towards the earth. This solar activity acts with our atmosphere and creates a green dancing light we know as the Auroras or Northern Lights.

This phenomena is actually quite common in our atmosphere. These strong solar flares do have the potential to interrupt radio and communication satellites in orbit due to the high amount of While this all may sound scary, it’s nothing to be alarmed over and it’s quite common. Strong solar flares can interrupt radio and communications due to the high amount of magnetic energy.

The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has issued G1, G2, and G3 geomagnetic storm watches that began on Wednesday night and will continue once again Thursday night throughout much of the country. For Thursday night, a G3 storm watch means slightly higher than normal chances for the Northern Lights to reach us.

A powerful solar flare could bring the Northern Lights farther south than normal, especially...
A powerful solar flare could bring the Northern Lights farther south than normal, especially Thursday night.(Ethan Rosuck, WIFR)

The further North you go, along with the more rural area you can get to both increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights. The best chances to see these is anytime after 9 p.m. through the overnight hours into Friday. For the best view, you need to get away from light pollution, which is harder than most people realize. You need a very dark sky. The further you are from city lights, the better your chances.

Best chances are in northern Illinois, all depends on cloud cover.
Best chances are in northern Illinois, all depends on cloud cover.(National Weather Service, Lincoln, Ill.)

Those predictions, however, are merely forecasts and not guarantees. “While SWPC forecasters are fairly confident in CME arrival at Earth, timing and geomagnetic storm intensity are less certain,” the center wrote in its alert.

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