A giant north-south gash in the sun’s corona is bleeding high-speed solar particles Earth’s way. They’re expected to arrive beginning tomorrow afternoon (Central time) and produce a moderate G2 geomagnetic storm, ie. a good northern lights display. According to the latest space weather forecast observers in the northern half of the U.S. and Canada might expect to see the aurora as soon as the sky darkens Sunday evening. Peak activity will be from 7-10 p.m. Central Time.
If this prognosis holds we should be in for a good show. The moon is totally absent from the sky, making this an ideal time to see an aurora. All you need is a relatively dark sky with a good view to the north. Be careful not to mistake domes of light pollution from nearby towns and developments for the real thing. The aurora usually appears as an arc with a distinct bottom edge and fuzzy top. When active, two or three low concentric arcs striped by flickering rays set it apart from anything else.
The down-on-the-ground weather forecast for my town looks terrible, but I’ll be monitoring sites on the Web and share updates. To find out the extent of the aurora in near real-time, click here. Clear skies!