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Northern Lights

Aurora Borealis a.k.a Northern Lights, Possibly Visible Late Tonight

Posted by David Epstein January 9, 2014 09:42 PM

There has been a lot of excitement about the possibility of seeing the aurora borealis or northern lights overnight. These types of phenomena are difficult to predict, but there are places that try.

I'll update any new information on Twitter @growingwisdom and please send me your reports there.
What we do know is that the aurora go through periods of activity and lulls. There are numbers that predict the strength of the storm and these numbers give a good indication of how far south the storm will be seen.

On the following map, the Kp of 7 line is north of Boston and across southern New Hampshire. If a prediction of a Kp of 7 or higher appears, then the chances are good to see the aurora storm.
northern lights.png

Below is a sample Kp forecast from earlier this evening. Click here for the latest forecast.
The best place to look is north and the further south you are, the lower on the horizon the lights will appear. The moon is a factor tonight, but skies remain clear as of mid-evening. I don’t expect clouds to be factor until the wee hours of the morning, perhaps after 3 or 4 AM.
kp number.jpg

The aurora are one of those magical phenomena which once you see them, you will never forget. I wish I could be more definitive as to whether or not you will see them tonight, but like many things in nature, we just have to wait and see. Another good site to check the latest forecast besides the earlier one I referenced is seen here.
Good luck

Perseid meteor shower peaks tonight, best places to view it

Posted by David Epstein August 11, 2012 07:44 PM

The annual Perseid meteor shower peaks tonight into early Sunday morning and if the sky above you is clear you are sure to enjoy a spectacular astronomical show. While the meteors are the main billing tonight, there are a few other players on the stellar stage. Look to the east early tomorrow morning before dawn as Jupiter, then the moon and finally Venus will rise, creating a nice diagonal line. planets tonight.gif Of course with any of these events in the sky the weather is the most important variable. It won't matter how great the meteors are if it's overcast. Much of Texas, the Ohio Valley, Tennessee, the northern parts of Alabama, Mississippi and the Rockies look to have favorable sky conditions. parts of Florida and a good deal of the West Coast will also be mainly clear.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this blog or any others. If you have a weather or gardening question ask me on Twitter at @growingwisdom and be sure to tell me where you are located.

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Another chance for northern lights tonight

Posted by David Epstein July 15, 2012 05:25 PM

Saturday night clear skies over much of the country helped create anticipation for a great display of the aurora borealis or northern lights. Unfortunately, much of the activity remained across the border in Canada although there were reports of activity in places like Duluth Minnesota and Burlington, Vermont.

Tonight, if you have clear skies, there is another chance to see the northern lights. You might wonder what makes it so difficult to predict. What you are seeing is the charged atmosphere as a result of tremendous energy being ejected from the sun. These flares tend to increase as the activity of the sun increases on an 11 year cycle. When a solar flare errupts on the sun it's like millions of hydrogen bombs exploding over a short period of time. (10 minutes or so). The energy from the flare rushes towards our atmosphere and charges it up. When we see the northern or southern lights we are seeing the sparks in the atmosphere from the charging. You can see shades of blue, white and even purple. Scientists have recently confirmed the lights also have a sound to them as well.
I will tweet updates on Twitter at @growingwisdomsolarflair3.gif

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About the author

David Epstein has been a professional meteorologist and horticulturalist for three decades. David spent 16 years at WCVB in Boston and currently freelances for WGME in Portland, ME. In 2006, More »
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