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Tonight's Updated Northern Lights Forecast: Here's Where You Could See Aurora Borealis

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Topline

The Northern Lights could be visible one more time on Monday night in Alaska, Canada and the northern U.S. as the huge geomagnetic storm bombarding Earth with solar flares is expected to calm down later this week. (See Tuesday's updated forecast here.)

The Northern Lights were visible as far south as Pennsylvania on Sunday, and could still appear ... [+] across the northern tier of the continental U.S. on Monday.

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Key Facts

The Northern Lights are the result of solar winds interacting with the Earth's magnetic field—and forecasters are predicting more major solar emissions on Monday, potentially making the Lights visible once again.

The Lights were visible in many parts of the continental U.S. from Friday through Sunday thanks to a "historic" geomagnetic storm, which has bombarded the Earth with solar emissions.

Alaska and Canada still have a high chance to see the Northern Lights as the storm begins to wind down, according to NOAA's aurora forecast.

Monday night's aurora is expected to have a Kp of at least 4—meaning the lights will move further from the poles and appear brighter to viewers, according to NOAA.

The storm is expected to wind down after Monday night as the Sun rotates, but the Northern Lights could still be visible for some people in Canada and Alaska on Tuesday.

On Monday afternoon, NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center extended the geomagnetic storm warning through at least 5 p.m. on Monday, with a K-index as high as 5 expected—meaning the Lights could still appear as far south as Michigan and Maine, according to the agency.

Where Will The Northern Lights Be Visible?

It is notoriously difficult for astronomers to predict exactly where the Northern Lights will be visible on a given night, but NOAA's current estimation shows they could be viewable as far south as the northern continental U.S., including parts of Maine, Minnesota and Washington. If you want to try viewing the Northern Lights, the agency says you should travel as close to the poles as possible, avoid city lights and other light pollution, monitor weather forecasts for prime viewing conditions and position yourself on a vantage point like a hilltop. The Lights are most active in the hours around midnight, typically from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Surprising Fact

The current geomagnetic storm bombarding Earth is likely being caused by NOAA Region 3664, a "magnetically complex" sunspot about 15 times larger than Earth. The sunspot has been erupting solar flares towards Earth for days, according to NOAA. The agency has recorded multiple X-class flares in the past week—the largest and most powerful solar emissions, according to NASA. The flares recorded recently have all exceeded X1, with one flare on Sunday measuring as powerful as X5.8. The largest X-class flare ever measured occurred in 2003, during another geomagnetic storm. The flare was so massive it overloaded sensors after they recorded X17, and astronomers at NASA now believe the flare was as large as X45. NOAA is continuing to track solar emissions through Monday, recording several M-class x-ray bursts approaching the severity of the X-class flares over the weekend. The current geomagnetic storm is expected to dissipate on Tuesday after Region 3664 rotates away from Earth.

Key Background

The Northern Lights were visible again for millions of people on Sunday night, according to NOAA. The agency issued two alerts on Sunday night for G3 level storms, or "strong" geomagnetic storms that may cause problems for satellites and high-frequency radio communication. These storms also produce visible auroras, and Sunday night's Northern Lights, which had a K-index intensity of Kp 7, were potentially visible as far south as Pennsylvania and Oregon, according to NOAA.

Further Reading

ForbesNorthern Lights Might Be Visible Again Tonight: Here's The Updated Aurora ForecastBy Zachary FolkForbesNorthern Lights Could Be Visible Again Tonight-Here's Updated Advice On How To WatchBy James Farrell

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