Aurora watch for northern U.S. tonight June 20-21

Photo taken June 20 showing a large coronal hole (dark patch) in the sun’s northern hemisphere and the one likely responsible for tonight’s increased aurora chances. Notice that the sun’s magnetism and wind of particles is constrained in loops over sunspot groups but flows freely from the hole. These occasional high speed winds unbound by solar magnetism fly past Earth and can spark auroras. Credit: NASA

If you live along northern border of the U.S. and points north, there’s a 25% chance you’ll see a minor auroral storm tonight through tomorrow morning. Chances are 70% for a major storm at high latitudes across Canada and Alaska.

I suspect I’d see a glow along the northern horizon here in Duluth, Minn. right now (11 p.m.) if the sky were clear. Sadly, we’re socked in. A speedy blast of solar wind pouring from an opening in the sun’s magnetic field called a coronal hole is responsible for the enhanced activity. Take a look outside before going to bed tonight just in case.

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