CLEVELAND — There’s a possibility that people in Northern Ohio could get the rare chance to see the Northern Lights Thursday night.
Talks of a possible sighting of the Northern Lights created some buzz on social media, particularly after the National Weather Service of Cleveland posted a map of where the Northern Lights might be visible.
So there is a lot of buzz about potential #SolarStorm heading our way. The SWPC issued a G3 Geomagnetic Storm Watch for Thursday, Dec 10th. Yellow line on the map shows the furthest southward potential for the #NorthernLights could be observed.https://t.co/peTr0Sbefw#OHwx #PAwx pic.twitter.com/4RMWXcZYTB— NWS Cleveland (@NWSCLE) December 9, 2020
It's true that earlier this week the sun produced a big solar flare pointed directly toward Earth. That sun spot burped out a ball of energy known as a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), which is headed toward the third rock from the sun and should begin hitting our planet Wednesday night.
When this kind of energy impacts us, it can affect radio waves, cell phones, etc. and it produces some incredible light displays at the North Pole called the Aurora Borealis.
According to scientists, this CME is about a 3 on a scale of 1 to 5, meaning it's a moderate blast of energy. It will likely produce Northern Lights that will be visible across our northernmost states like Maine, Minnesota and North Dakota. Since Ohio is a bit farther south, this event has a small to medium chance of being visible from Northern Ohio sometime Thursday night.
Luckily for us, our skies should be mostly clear. Auroras appear in the northern sky. It's best to look for them away from city lights if possible. As for when an Aurora Borealis could appear, that's a much tougher question to answer. Scientists often only have a good 30 to 60 minute lead time to forecast an Aurora.
The Space Weather Prediction Center does have a web page that can tell you when an aurora will appear within 30 minutes.
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