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Following up: Will you still be able to see the Northern Lights Saturday night?

POSTED SATURDAY MORNING

A lot of us got a rare treat Friday night, when the aurora danced through the Virginia sky.

It was due to an Extreme (G5) geomagnetic storm, according to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center. A storm of that magnitude hadn’t happened since the fall of 2003.

These storms happen when solar flares interact with Earth’s magnetic field. The stronger they are, the farther south the aurora can be seen.

If you missed it Friday night, you’re probably asking, “Will we see it again Saturday night?”

You could, according to the SWPC.

It’s forecasting the storm to continue through the weekend as a Strong (G3) geomagnetic storm, but that strength could vary at times due to a multitude of solar flares interacting with Earth’s magnetic field (possibly G4).

A strong geomagnetic storm remains possible throughout the weekend.

A strong geomagnetic storm remains possible throughout the weekend.

If a G3-G5 geomagnetic storm aligns with our nighttime, specifically after 10 p.m., then you stand the chance of seeing the aurora again.

It’s worth a shot if you have the time, but you may want to go in with the expectation that it may not be as bright and impressive as Friday night.

I’ll never discourage looking up at our night sky. You never know what you’ll see on a clear night!

POSTED FRIDAY MORNING

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a G4 Watch for the first time since 2005.

What in the world does that mean?

Recently, the sun unleashed a series of flares that are set to interact with the earth’s magnetic field; a geomagnetic storm.

The Space Weather Prediction Center is expecting a G4 storm Friday night into Saturday morning.

The Space Weather Prediction Center is expecting a G4 storm Friday night into Saturday morning.

While this might sound frightening, to the average person – this doesn’t have many real world implications.

That is until you start to talk about the Northern Lights.

When these solar flares interact with Earth’s magnetic field, charged protons and electrons will enter through where the magnetic field is strongest – the poles.

The stronger that interaction, the farther south the aurora can be seen.

How the Aurora borealis happens

How the Aurora borealis happens

This happens most often during the spring months, which is something we saw in April of 2023.

Northern lights as seen from Botetourt County. 

Photo: Kati Grace Collins

Northern lights as seen from Botetourt County.

Photo: Kati Grace Collins

Now, are you going to be able to see the lights outside your house dancing over your head?

It’s highly unlikely that happens.

That said, the greater probability of seeing the aurora is shown in areas above the green line. That’s a lot farther south than usual.

Odds of seeing the Northern Lights across the U.S.

Odds of seeing the Northern Lights across the U.S.

The best time to look would likely be after 10 p.m.

You still need to consider a few things before trying to view it.

The odds of seeing the Northern Lights in Virginia on Friday night/Saturday morning.

The odds of seeing the Northern Lights in Virginia on Friday night/Saturday morning.

1. You’d need a clear view of the northern sky.

2. You’d need to get to a darker spot (I’ve gone up the Blue Ridge Parkway in the past).

As one last caveat, you need to know that predicting space weather is a fickle beast.

Everything needs to come together just right in order for us to even see a faint glow this far south.

Sometimes, we don’t know for sure if that will happen until an hour or two beforehand.

[IF YOU SEE IT, send us your pictures through Pin It.]


Source: WSLS News 10

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