Residents across Saskatchewan are witnessing something truly special this week: the aurora borealis.
“Definitely talking to the old timers, we are seeing a lot more activity than we’ve normally seen,” Royal Astronomical Society of Canada member Tim Yaworski said Thursday.
Yaworski added that the strength of the lights is also uncommon inside city limits.
“For us to be able to step out of our back door and look up and see that is really, highly unusual, because of the fact that yes, there’s a lot of light pollution,” Yaworski said.
“When the mass coronal ejection happens in the sun, basically it sends photons towards the earth and then it interacts with the earth’s outer atmosphere,” Quinlan explained. “It causes a bit of a chemical reaction which is what we see as the northern lights.”
These solar storms come in cycles — approximately every 11 years — but Quinlan said this current cycle is actually quite rare. The magnitude and rarity of these dancing lights are something aurora chasers and amateur photographers may hardly ever see.
“This will be a fairly enhanced activity,” he said. “This is what’s being called a one-in-100-year solar event.”
“We will see a number of more rare colours seen in the night sky, like the rare red aurora could be seen, some of the purple aurora’s as well as some that look a little more blue.”
Quinlan expects this cycle will last for approximately the next year, so view seekers will still have a chance to catch the aurora borealis in all its shining glory.