The Sun has been very, active of late, blasting a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space and towards Earth. Riding onthis wave ofenergy are millions upon millions of charged atoms from the Sun. When the highly-charged particles of energy hit our upper atmosphere, they interact with Earth's magnetic field.
Result: the multi-colored curtains that are the Northern Lights.
For us living in the Northern Hemisphere, auroras are common in high latitudes such as Canada, the Scandinavian countries, and higher. According to spaceweather.com, the probability for a severe geomagnetic storm in the next 24 hours is 40% for people living in these high latitudes.
For those at mid latitudes, such as Cleveland's 41 degrees North, auroras don't find their way into our skies very often.
So, what about tonight?
Well, the news is iffy at best. For good news, the Moon is less than half full, which means that nature's night light will interfere with aurora watching only at the start of the night. Making for uncertainty is the fact that aurora are not a uniform phenomenon like an advancing front of thunderstorms, but are more like the hit and miss, flare-up storms that pop up during a hot summer afternoon. Result: lights visible in one city but not in another just a few miles down the road.
However, the Lights do find their ways to our latitudes from time to time. In 2005, I saw a stunning blue-violet display of aurora and, just last October, another solar storm produced a dazzling display of the Northern Lights.
Lastly, the weather is something to be considered. Astronomy always a weather-allowing pursuit, be sure to keep an eye on the Cleveland weather forecastand, for hour-by-hour cloud predictions, the Cleveland Clear Sky Clock. Unfortunately, at least in the Cleveland area, things are looking pretty cloudy as of this writing. Live somewhere else? Find a clock and see if it will be clear near you
For more info:
All about the Northern Lights
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