The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. The Vikings thought it was a way to the gods, but we now know exactly what the beautiful lights are.


If you are lucky, Northern Lights can come near you this weekend.

At least you can, if you live in Canada, parts of Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Michigan, Maine, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire, according to the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) 's geophysical institute's aurora forecast.

In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggests the Space Weather Prediction Center that Aurora Borealis – or Northern Lights – could be visible as far south as Iowa and Colorado.

If everything goes right, it can also be seen on the horizon in Chicago and Detroit.

This relatively rare event can be traced to March 20, when a powerful solar energy outbreak sent an unusually large stream of electrically charged particles flowing to the ground.

Usually such particles collide with gas particles in the Earth's atmosphere and put on their colorful screen, much like glow of a neon light. Oxygen molecules deliver a well-known, ghostly green Aurora, while nitrogen produces blue or red.

Although there is no cause for personal security alarm or even the sensitive North American electricity grids, the arrival of this vigorous energy breakout can trigger a geomagnetic storm and disturb the delicate balance of the poles.

However, the storm pushes the whirling Aurora of course and drives it south for as long as three days and sets its magical show.

To get the best views, look east on Saturday night before midnight as aurora rises, or west after midnight. Warning: This only works if skies are clear and dark.

Another warning: Don't expect Aurora Borealis to put a dazzling show further south where it may look like just a glimpse of the horizon in places like Detroit and Chicago.

Keep up to date with NOAA's 30-minute forecast and UAF's Aurora forecasting sites.

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