The Northern Lights May Move Farther South Into The Mainland U.S. This Week

surangastock via Deposit Photos

When we think of seeing the Northern Lights we think of traveling to a very cold and northern area of the world, perhaps even viewing the amazing light show, also known as the aurora borealis, from the inside of a glass igloo.

You don’t have to leave the United States to see the Northern Lights, but the phenomenon is usually only visible from the most northern state in the country – Alaska. Residents of Alaska and northern parts of Canada can see the Northern Lights without traveling too far, but for those of us in the lower 48, the phenomenon is not usually visible.

This week, perhaps tonight or tomorrow night, if you live in certain states besides Alaska, you may be able to see the Northern Lights from your own backyard, or perhaps a neighbor’s backyard or a nearby park. You get the idea.

Due to the effects of a geoomagnetic storm, the Northern Lights may be visible in parts of Oregon, Iowa and Pennsylvania. In order to view the auroras, first, you’ll want to check the weather. Cloud cover or a chance of rain would most likely make it impossible to view the Northern Lights. If the sky is supposed to be clear, you’ll want to find an area where this is as little light as possible (so, not in a city or near a lot of street lights) and ideally, find a hill or somewhere with a high elevation.

Once you have found the ideal viewing location, all you need to do is look at the sky. You do not need a telescope or any special viewing equipment.

Be sure to look at every direction of the sky. Even though the auroras are known as Northern Lights, they can be visible in any direction, not just the north.

If the term geomagnetic storm has you worried, don’t be. This isn’t what we typically think of as a storm with thunder and lightning. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), a geomagnetic storm, which is also called a magnetic storm, is “a period of rapid magnetic field variation.” It is usually caused by strong solar wind emitted from the sun that disturbs the Earth’s magnetic field, and it can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

Here’s a short video of stunning footage of Northern Lights: