close
close

The Northern Lights Could Appear Again Next Week – Best Life

Over Mother’s Day weekend, stargazers had a front-row seat to one of the most spectacular natural light displays to ever grace our nation’s night sky. The kaleidoscopic display was viewed in more than a dozen U.S. states — an extremely rare event for Americans, as the Northern Lights are typically brightest and fullest in the Aurora Zone, which spans Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Canada. But for those who missed it, listen up: Forecasters predict that Aurora Borealis’ second act is just days away.

RELATED: New Star Will ‘Explode’ in the Night Sky – How to Watch the ‘Once-in-a-Lifetime’ Event.

According to Room, the Northern Lights occur when “activated particles from the Sun collide with Earth’s upper atmosphere at speeds of up to 45 million miles per hour.” The fluorescence of these dancing particles can be visible in shades of pink, purple, blue and green.

“Each type of atom or molecule, whether it’s atomic hydrogen or a molecule like carbon dioxide, absorbs and emits its own unique set of colors, which is analogous to how each human has a unique set of fingerprints,” he says. Billy Teetssaid the director of Dyer Observatory at Vanderbilt University in Nashville Room.

The chromatic intensity of the Northern Lights depends on the lunar sense of the moon. As with any celestial light show, a sky without moonlight will provide a bigger (aka darker) stage. This makes the event more visible to stargazers on the ground – as was the case with the Mother’s Day spectacle, which took place just after the new moon in May, when the sky was already particularly dark, per Living Science.

However, the May 12 light show was a group effort. According to Living Science, it was “the result of at least five solar storms hitting Earth simultaneously, all originating from a massive sunspot known as active region 3664.” The dark spot, also known as AR3664/AR13664, is estimated to be fifteen times larger than Earth.

For many astrophiles, the Northern Lights are truly a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. But it’s promising that AR3664/AR13664 will be pointed toward Earth again when the sun rotates on its axis on June 6. This will also conveniently align with June’s new moon, paving the way for another glorious light shower.

“It will be nicely aligned,” Ryan Frenchsaid a solar physicist at Colorado’s National Solar Observatory (NSO). Living Science. “Once the sunspot starts to appear, we enter the window of opportunity (for auroras viewing).”

If the auroras make themselves known, they will happen when AR3664/AR13664 reaches the center of the sun. Living Science reports that this is the time when “the Sun-Earth system will be most connected,” and the chances of a Northern Lights show are at their peak.

“That’s exactly where it produced all those big flares,” French explained. “But in theory, if you had a big enough eruption, even if it was to the left of the center of the sun, we could still reach the edge of that impact.”

It takes about 27 days for the moon to complete its orbit around Earth, meaning the next new moon will occur around June 6. But scientists recommend checking the night sky in the days before, because if June’s geomagnetic storm is anything like May’s, several nights of northern lights could occur.

Although the Northern Lights are visible to the naked eye, you’ll have a clearer view in areas not populated by city lights, pollution and clouds.

Back To Top