Northern lights will be visible from these 17 US states from Thursday

Skygazers across 17 states in the United States will be treated to a sighting of the colourful aurora borealis light show on Thursday, brought by a forecast solar storm in the atmosphere. So are you ready to see this one in a life-time scene, then read below and find out the exact time the light will appear in the sky in your area.

Northern lights will be visible from these 17 US states from Thursday

The aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, could be visible in more than a dozen states this week. The stunning display of light from outer space is expected to be visible in states from Alaska to Maryland, weather permitting, between July 12 and 13.

The aurora borealis produces neon green waves in the night sky when electrons from space collide with atoms and molecules of the upper atmosphere of Earth, according to NASA. The result is similar to when electrons collide with neon gas to create bright lightbulbs.

People often consider the northern lights some of the most beautiful sky phenomena you can spot. However, it’s sometimes hard to get somewhere they are visible. That could change this week like I earlier mention, as skywatchers could get a chance to see the northern lights this Thursday and Friday, July 12 and 13 across 17 different cities in the United States of America.

According to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, on Wednesday and Thursday, the kp-index, or planetary index, will be at five and six, respectively. The scale goes all the way up to nine, and any occurrence above five is considered a geomagnetic storm.

What happens during a geomagnetic storm?

During the storm, a coronal hole (the spot that appear black on the sun) prompts high winds, which in turn, trigger coronal mass ejections, or CMEs. A CME projects plasma and pieces of the sun’s magnetic field into the atmosphere.

“CME typically take several days to arrive at Earth, but have been obsevered, for some of the most intense storms, to arrive in as short as 18 hours,” NOAA space Weather Prediction center says.

What is an aurora?

The sun’s activity is volatile, and in some cases, the disturbances are so strong they can pull the Earth’s magnetic field away from our planet.

But, like a taut rubber band when it’s released, the magnetic field snaps back, and the force of that recoil creates powerful ripples known as Alfven waves about 80,000 miles from the ground. As those waves get closer to Earth, they move faster thanks to the planet’s magnetic pull.


Sometimes electrons hitch a ride on these superfast Alfven waves, reaching speeds as high as 45 million mph as they hurtle downward. So you can see what am telling you right now.

When the electrons reach earth’s thin upper atmosphere, they collide with nitrogen and oxygen molecules, sending them into an excited state. The excited electrons eventually calm down and release light, which is what we see as the aurora.

How and when to view the Northern light?

The Space Weather Prediction Center says the best time to view the aurora is usually between 10pm and 2am local time.

You don’t need any special equipment to see auroras. Just do the following;

·       Pick a spot where there is little light pollution

·       Get a higher elevation if possible

·     Check the forecast for signs of clouds or precipitation, which could block your view

·  Scan the skies – while northern is in the name, they can appear from all directions.

Now the states that are expected to get glimpses of the northern lights this July are all still pretty far north, so if you are in Texas or New Mexico, you shouldn’t expect to see any kind of light displays in the sky. We have seen auroras appear in New Mexico in the past, though, so it isn’t unheard of with the right circumstances.

The aurora borealis could be seen across parts of Washington, Idaho, Vermont, Wyoming, New Hampshire, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Maryland, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Newyork, and Maine.

On Wednesday, the storm will be highly visible “low on the horizon from settle, Des Moines (Iowa), Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, and Halifax (Nova Scotia)”.

On Thursday, the storm will get stronger and can be seen overhead in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Bath City, Mich, and on the horizon in Salem, Mass, Boise, Idaho, Cheyenne, Wyo, Lincoln, Neb, Indianapolis and Annapolis.

So lastly, if you want to get a chance to see these auroras when they come through on July 13, you will want to head outside between 10pm and 2am local time. You will also have the best chance of seeing them away from bright city lights, so those who live outside of bigger cities will have the most likely chance of spotting these July northern lights.