• Solar storm could make northern lights visible in New York, Chicago

    By: Ann Smajstrla, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

    Updated:

    Forget traveling to Alaska to catch a glimpse of the northern lights -- for this weekend, at least.

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    The colorful phenomenon in the sky may be visible as far south as New York and Chicago this weekend due to a rare geomagnetic storm, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

    “If the storm is oriented properly, we could have a chance for auroras for several days after impact,” said Tamitha Skov, a space weather scientist based in Los Angeles, told NBC News.

    Northern lights, or auroras, happen when charged particles from the sun collide with Earth’s atmosphere, Space Weather Prediction Center physicist Terry Osanger told NBC News. An influx of charged particles during geomagnetic storms can supercharge the glow.

    The NOAA issued a geomagnetic storm watch on Wednesday after detecting a small solar flare that was followed by a coronal mass ejection, or CME: a giant cloud of charged particles from the layer of gas surrounding the sun, CBS News reported.

    Scientists aren’t sure what time the CME will hit earth. Skov and Osanger recommended checking NOAA’s OVATION Aurora Forecast Models.

    More information and aurora-viewing tips can be found at the NOAA website.

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