Northern lights may be visible in Michigan tonight due to solar flare

Did you miss the rare northern lights appearance in Michigan this past July? You could be in luck.

The northern part of the United States could see an aurora borealis show overnight Wednesday night going into Thursday morning. That includes Michigan.

Why? A solar flare outburst from the sun on Labor Day. As Dave Mosher of Business Insider explains:

On Monday, the surface of the sun erupted into a small solar flare and burped out a cloud of high-energy particles. This particle cloud, called a coronal mass ejection, is traveling at about 200 miles per second and should arrive at Earth on Wednesday night.

When it does, those particles will encounter our planet's magnetic field, get shuttled toward the North and South Poles, slam into atmospheric gases, and trigger an unusually south-reaching Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.

In addition, the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) has issued a strong geomagnetic storm watch (G3) for Sept. 6-7, with "most likely area of aurora extent" stretching as far down as the southern Michigan border.

For you, this means the northern lights could reach south into the United States - not just in Michigan, but also Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana and the New England states.

That being said, don't expect to view the northern lights in southern Michigan, especially if you live near a big city such as Detroit. These are best viewed in very dark and clear skies, particularly the Upper Peninsula and elsewhere in northern Michigan. Tonight's forecast calls for partly to mostly cloudy skies throughout the state.

Furthermore, Mosher notes: "Wednesday's aurora may be especially difficult to see because a bright moon will rise at the start of the evening for the northern US states and set in the morning, potentially overpowering the dim aurora."

But still, there's a chance. Many were able to witness a rare July light show in Michigan, including Dustin Dilworth of D3 Imagery, who captured the northern lights over the Mackinac Bridge in the wee morning hours.

© 2017, Detroit Free Press


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