Have you ever seen the Northern Lights?
If, like the band Phish in their song “Farmhouse,” you haven’t, then get excited for tonight. But only if you’re outside the city.
While the magentic storm that occurred on Wednesday will result in the appearance of the Aurora Borealis Friday, with sightings as far south as Maryland predicted, experts say the amount of light pollution in the NYC metropolitan area will make it close to impossible to actually see it.
“We will see the Northern Lights over the Northern Tier states, across New England to the Great Lakes to the Dakotas … but you have to be away from the lights of NYC,” said Bill Murtagh, program coordinator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) space weather prediction center.
So get in your car and head as far north as you can.
Of course, the night must be clear, too.
The NOAA scales magnetic storms on a scale of 1-5. The storm on Wednesday was a 3, which is considered strong, Murtagh said.
“If you get yourself into the right location, it is possible the Aurora could be seen tonight,” he said.
But only if you get away from man-made light.
For the Aurora Borealis to appear, a magnetic disturbance within the sun’s magnetic field has to occur. Those disturbances then shoot out into space, and can go in any direction, carrying with them their own magnetic fields. When they come into contact with the Earth’s magnetic field, those beautiful “curtains and dancing waves of light” will become visible, Murtagh said.
But only if you are in Alaska, Canada or far north will you ever see anything so dramatic. The further south you are, even if you’re far from a metropolitan area, you’ll likely only see a glow in the north. The strength of the storm predicts how dramatic the Northern Lights will look.
We’re ready for the country. It’s time to go. Who’s with us?