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 for continental U.S. residents to venture north to Canada or Alaska to see the magical northern lights, they graced us with their presence in about 19 U.S. states in July 2023, and again in several more states in November 2023.
So you may be wondering: Will I be able to see the northern lights tonight? Keep reading for all the details.
The northern lights were visible in parts of the U.S. and Europe in early November 2023.
On Sunday, Nov. 5, the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center announced that areas in several Midwest and Northeast states should have a view of the northern lights that night, as reported by USA Today. States included Nebraska, Iowa, and New York.
This was due to a coronal mass ejection, which sparked a geomagnetic storm, as per The Hill. These storms can then lead to the creation of visible auroras, as explained by the NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC).
Come the following morning, Monday, Nov. 6, various people had shared images of the stunning display captured overnight. Observers spotted the northern lights in U.S. states including Washington, Maine, Wyoming, and Virginia.
Others spotted the northern lights from Europe, in countries including Ukraine, Russia, Slovakia, the Netherlands, and Greece.
Will you be able to see the northern lights again on Nov. 6, 2023?
As of Monday, Nov. 6, 2023, it's unlikely that the above regions will be able to see the aurora borealis again tonight, based on NOAA data.
Interestingly, as The Hill notes, the SWPC is predicting even stronger geomagnetic storms for Monday night than there were on Sunday night. However, that unfortunately doesn't mean the northern lights will be visible as far south as they were on Sunday.
The news outlet notes that people across Alaska and Canada may still be able to see the northern lights on Monday night, though.
The northern lights made an impressive display in the U.S. July 2023.
The northern lights were visible from the night of Wednesday July 12 into the early hours of Thursday, July 13, 2023, according to Syracuse. They were visible from locations in 17 U.S. states, according to Earth.com: Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa (according to TIME), Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey (according to Asbury Park Press), New York, North Dakota, Ohio (according to TIME), South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming; they were also visible in Vancouver and other areas in Canada, as per TIME.
How to see the northern lights:
Seeing the northern lights from across the U.S. and Europe is pretty rare — so if you are interested in traveling to see the stunning aurora borealis, you'll want to look into visiting places including: Norway; Fairbanks, Alaska; Finland; Churchill, Canada; Iceland; Sweden; and Pennsylvania's Cherry Springs State Park, as recommended by Travel + Leisure.
Obviously, it needs to be extremely dark to see the northern lights. The best time to view them is generally late at night — and in the middle of nowhere, with little-to-no light pollution, of course.
Even if you don't have binoculars, as long as you're in a region where northern lights visibility is in the forecast, you should be able to see them with the naked eye — as long as it's dark enough, and as long as the skies are clear.
Additional reporting by Sophie Hirsh.
This article, originally published on March 24, 2023, has been updated to reflect the northern lights becoming visible to the U.S. in July 2023, and again to reflect their appearance in November 2023.