Missed the northern lights? Still a chance to see them tonight
TORONTO – Thursday’s anticipated geomagnetic storm – responsible for creating the northern lights – swept over Canada right on time.
READ MORE: Why do we get the northern lights?
The the solar storm arrived around 11 p.m. EDT Thursday night, creating green and red curtains of light in the night sky.
One big problem, however: For most Canadians, the clouds got in the way.
Northern lights are triggered by coronal mass ejections from the sun, or CMEs, that hurl outward and eventually wash over Earth. The particles interact with our magnetic field, lighting up the sky.
Two CMEs were ejected this week that had Earth in their crosshairs: one that arrived Thursday night and second, expected tonight.
Those lucky few Canadians who had clear skies Thursday night weren’t disappointed.
— Tamitha Skov (@TamithaSkov) September 12, 2014
— Lori Bote (@prairiepixphoto) September 12, 2014
— Notanee Bourassa (@DJHardwired) September 12, 2014
The aurora was even seen in the northern United States, in Wisconsin and Minneosta.
— Amy Flannigan (@shadypinesphoto) September 12, 2014
— Brian Peterson (@BMPPhoto) September 12, 2014
As of Friday afternoon, it looked like the second CME impacted Earth around noon, which doesn’t bode well for Canada since we’re on the day side. However, there is still the chance that we may see some aurora tonight.
It’s difficult to say when the best chance will be: it’s all dependent on how the particles interact with the magnetosphere. But if you’re going to check, typically the best time is after midnight, but if it’s a storm, then it could happen any time it’s dark. Check here to see the current conditions. When we’re in storm mode, head outside.
— Reid Wiseman (@astro_reid) September 12, 2014
So remember to head outside if the skies are clear tonight. You might be treated to a beautiful light show.
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