Some Parts of the Northern U.S. & Canada Have Chance to See Northern Lights

Residents in parts of the northern United States and Canada will have a great chance to see the northern lights this weekend.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center says if you live in Canada, North Dakota, Montana, Michigan, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire you've got a good shot at seeing the show tonight. Residents living in Chicago and Detroit may even be able to spot the glow on the horizon.

To get the best view, look east Saturday night before midnight as the aurora rises over the horizon, or to the west after midnight. The agency adds that you'll need clear and dark skies to see anything, so hopefully the weather will cooperate. City-dwellers will also want to get away from light-polluted areas if they want a chance to see the lights.

This weekend's light show can be traced back to a solar flare that erupted on March 20. The resulting coronal mass ejection was hurled toward earth where it is set to collide with our planet's atmosphere. The streams of electronically charged particles interact with gas particles in earth's atmosphere, putting on the colorful display. The greens seen in the northern lights are due to the oxygen molecules, while nitrogen is responsible for the blues and reds.

 

This particular geomagnetic storm is a strong one, and it's pushing the aurora off course, driving it south from where it normally hangs out above the poles.

Don't worry, this isn't some kind of world-ending storm that will knock north America's electrical grid down, or brick your phones. The very worst earthlings can expect from the charged particles swirling above our heads is a limited blackout of some high-frequency radio and navigation signals.

Photo: Getty Images

title

Content Goes Here