The northern lights, or aurora borealis are a natural miracle. They cast ethereal light waves across the sky that are as beautiful as they are eerie. But unless your house is a reasonable stop off on an expedition to the North Pole, you probably don’t get to see them all that often. In order to catch a glimpse further south it takes an event called a geomagnetic storm. And if you live in Wisconsin, Minnesota or Michigan, good news: We’re getting one tonight. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a G2, a moderate geomagnetic storm watch, that’s in effect for Earth tonight.
That all sounds kind of scary, but NOAA hasn’t indicated that the storm will be strong enough to do much if any real damage.
What it will do is produce an aurora visible in places that rarely get to see one. NOAA’s calculations show northern lights being visible through most of Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and South Dakota, as well as much of New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine and parts of Iowa. The line of visibility may even extend as far south as Chicago and Boston.
If you live in the line of the aurora and it’s clear enough go out and try to catch a glimpse. The storm should persist overnight and into Saturday morning, so you’ll have to stay up late. Also, make sure you get somewhere dark. Nothing ruins a northern lights viewing session like some light pollution.
So go get out there tonight. This doesn’t happen that often. You might not have another chance for a couple more years.