The last month of 2020 is set to throw us another surprise- luckily a mesmerizing one this time. New Yorkers may get a rare glimpse of the Northern Lights tonight, along with several other parts of the US, if they’re lucky enough.
The Space Weather Prediction Center, part of NOAA and the National Weather Service, is predicting that a geomagnetic storm will pass over earth between December 9th and 11th; wherein the night of greatest activity is expected to be on the 10th. The storm will potentially be powerful enough that viewers in northern states of the U.S. may be able to see the colorful glow of the aurora, known as the aurora borealis.
The National Weather Service, on Wednesday, shared a photo on Twitter, that shows that the light show could possibly be seen upstate but not in New York City. Depending on how strong the phenomenon is, watchers in Washington, northern Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, northern Nebraska, northern Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Hampshire, Vermont, or Maine, would also be able to view the splendid lights.
To view the phenomenon, stargazers are advised to travel far away from the buzz and the light pollution- to the darker outskirts, with a view of the northern horizon. The storm that gives way to the lights is caused by a massive eruption of particles from our sun. While the earth’s magnetic shield and the field generally protect us from the worst of this solar radiation, some particles enter through the auroral ovals around the north and south poles. Those particles excite atoms in our atmosphere and produce the light we know as the aurora borealis (northern hemisphere) and aurora australis (southern hemisphere).
This being said, if the Northern Lights do reach the Long Island area, it probably won’t be the waving bands in the sky that people see on TV. Because of how far south Long Island is, it is more likely to get faint green glows. In addition, light pollution in the area could make the lights impossible to see all together, but it still is a possibility.