Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Set Your US Sights On the Northern Lights: July 12 & 13, 2023

Given a solar storm is on the horizon for Wednesday & Thursday, July 12th and 13th, the news has been buzzing about the possibility of the northern lights being visible in parts of about 17 states and Canada. According to Time Magazine's article "How You Can See the Northern Lights This Week Across the U.S," those states include those in the northern half of the United States (listed here alphabetically): Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Vermont. Depending on where you live will indicate where and when you may see them.

I decided to look it up as I only had a cursory knowledge of what this light wave show was all about. I learned that actually, this phenomenon of beauty is actually the result of a storm of energized sun particles hitting the Earth, which is mainly protected by our planetary magnet field--except at the poles. This quote from's article "Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis): What They Are & How to See Them" (by Stefanie Walden and Daisy Dobrijevic) had a great tagline: 
"The northern lights are an atmospheric phenomenon that's regarded as the Holy Grail of skywatching."
This video from The Brain Stuff Show tells even more, including some mythology and also how it was named "aurora borealis" by Galileo Galilei in 1619.

According to Time Magazine's article, here's the best way to see the aurora borealis:
  • 10 pm to 2 am in your local time zone.
  • Find a north-facing view without a lot of skyline, homes, or tree clutter in the way. (Higher ground may help with this.) However, lights could come from any direction.
  • The further you are from light pollution of city lights the better.
  • Weather and clouds could block visibility.

Can't get enough? Read more by checking out these articles:

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