The skies will be glowing this Halloween weekend for many Americans who get a rare chance to see the Northern Lights.
“Auroral activity will be high(++). Weather permitting, highly active auroral displays will be visible overhead from Inuvik, Yellowknife, Rankin and Iqaluit, to Portland OR, Cheyenne, Lincoln, Springfield, and New York City, and visible low on the horizon as far south as Carson City, Oklahoma City, and Raleigh,” according to the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.
It’s one of the better setups for Northern Lights development on Saturday night. We’ll just have to watch the increasing clouds.
— Chris |☇uball (@ChrisKuball) October 29, 2021
Although the particles interact everywhere in the atmosphere, Earth’s magnetic field nudges the particles toward the poles.
While Earth gets its glow on, there could be complications, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has warned.
— NOAA Space Weather (@NWSSWPC) October 29, 2021
The same solar flare that will spark the light show in the skies is expected to cause what the NOAA has classified as a strong geomagnetic storm on Saturday and Sunday, according to CNN. The storm is rated at a three on a five-point scale.
The impact of the storm could cause voltage irregularities and false alarms on some devices, NOAA warns. High-frequency radio blackouts and loss of radio contact on the side of the Earth facing the sun are also possible.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration got a picture of the solar activity at the heart of the commotion.
“Brighter than a shimmering ghost, faster than the flick of a black cat’s tail, the Sun cast a spell in our direction, just in time for Halloween,” the administration wrote on its YouTube page, captioning a video from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory showing the highlights of the activity.
“Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel,” NASA wrote.
“This flare was classified as an X1-class flare. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, and so on,” NASA wrote. “This was the second X-class flare of Solar Cycle 25, which began in Dec. 2019. A new solar cycle comes roughly every 11 years.”
— KATV News (@KATVNews) October 24, 2019
During these cycles, the sun goes from placid to active and back to placid again.
This weekend’s show is not confined to the U.S. alone.
The aurora borealis could be seen in Scotland and the Scandinavian countries and might be glowing on the horizon in Dublin, Ireland and Hamburg, Germany.
The aurora at the South Pole will be active as well, and could be seen on the horizon in Melbourne, Australia.