Stargazers in Several U.S. States Will Be Able to See the Northern Lights Tonight
Will I be able to see the Northern Lights tonight? Several U.S. states will be able to see the northern lights on Friday, March 24.
Seeing the aurora borealis — aka the northern lights — is at the top of many people's bucket lists. And even though it's usually required to venture to Canada or Alaska to see them, they're gracing us with our presence in several U.S. states this weekend.
Though the views were definitely better on Thursday, they're still going to be lighting up the skies on Friday, March 24, depending on where you'll be stargazing from. So you may be wondering: Will I be able to see the northern lights tonight?
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"On Thursday night, a 'severe; geomagnetic storm — rated a level four out of five by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) — brought vibrant, bright auroras as far south as Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Iowa, New Mexico, and North Carolina... Some even reported seeing an another newly discovered aurora-like phenomenon called STEVE," wrote Kasha Patel of The Washington Post on Friday.
"Auroras are commonly seen at higher latitudes, but the strength of the storm allowed people at mid-latitudes see them as well. But the conditions that led to this storm were rare,” Patel also noted.
Even though the storm won't be as strong on Friday, and therefore won't be as widely visible, many U.S. states will still be able to see the glorious northern lights tonight.
Where will the northern lights be visible tonight?
Unfortunately, the latest geomagnetic storms were strongest — and most widely visible — on Thursday, March 23. From Thursday night into Friday morning, according to USA Today, a number of states caught a glimpse of the aurora borealis, including: Washington state, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, and New York.
However, if you didn't catch the natural phenomenon late last night or early this morning, you aren't totally SOL, as they're coming back for round two.
According to The New York Post, a handful of U.S. states will be able to catch a glimpse of the lights on Friday, March 24: those out west in Montana; northern Midwest states including Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin; Maine; and communities along the New York-Canada border.
These latest sightings can be attributed to a coronal hole in the sun — which sounds serious, but it's truly nothing to worry about. It doesn't do much aside from possibly interfering with GPS devices and satellites.
And even though Thursday night's storm was listed at a moderate 6 on the Kp Index, which spans from 0 and 9, Friday's is predicted to be measured at a "light" 4.
So, when will we be able to catch the lights tonight? Prepare to chug some coffee or take a cold shower, though, because the best time to watch them is late at night — and in the middle of nowhere, with little-to-no light pollution, of course.
What time will the northern lights be visible tonight?
Obviously, it needs to be extremely dark to see the northern lights, but luckily, it isn't a school night! That said, according to The New York Post, the prime time to catch a view of them is between 10 p.m. and 2 p.m.
“These hours of active aurora expand toward evening and morning as the level of geomagnetic activity increases," the NOAA told The New York Post. "There may be aurora in the evening and morning but it is usually not as active and therefore, not as visually appealing.”
Even if you don't have binoculars, as long as you're in the aforementioned regions, you might be able to see them with the naked eye, as long as it's dark enough, and as long as the skies are clear.