The Space Weather Prediction Center issued a geomagnetic storm watch for the upcoming weekend, meaning we could catch glimpses of the aurora borealis, or northern lights.
The watch is in effect from Thursday through Saturday but is expected to peak on Friday. At its peak, the northern lights could be seen as far south as New York and Idaho.
The solar storm is expected to be at a G1 level on Thursday and Saturday, meaning the aurora could be seen as far south as northern Michigan and Maine.
A G2 solar storm could cause high-latitude power systems to experience voltage alarms, as long-duration storms may cause transformer damage. At the G1 level, weak power grid fluctuations could occur, the Space Weather Prediction Center said.
The watch was prompted due to a coronal hole high-speed stream. The aurora could also be influenced by a coronal mass ejection event earlier in the week.
The Space Weather Prediction Center said these coronal holes can happen at any time but are most frequent when the sun is at its lowest cycle.
Auroras are caused by the solar wind interacting with Earth’s magnetic field. These auroras tend to navigate around the Earth’s magnetic poles.
“The solar wind particles funnel around to the long tail of the magnetosphere, where they become trapped,” per NASA.“When magnetic reconnection occurs, the particles are accelerated toward Earth’s poles. Along the way, particles can collide with atoms and molecules in Earth’s upper atmosphere, an interaction that provides the atoms with extra energy, which is released as a burst of light. These interactions continue at lower and lower altitudes until all the incoming energy is lost. When we see the glowing aurora, we are watching a billion individual collisions, lighting up the magnetic field lines of Earth.”
By Scripps News.