The Northern US Might See A Rare Aurora Borealis

Some northern parts of the country might see ripples of color in the sky this weekend.
Posted at 8:58 AM, Apr 30, 2016

If you live in the northern contiguous U.S., you might want to go outside Saturday night and look up. You could catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a minor geomagnetic storm watch.

Those most likely to see the display live in the most northern states, like Montana, Minnesota and North Dakota.

The lights are usually seen farther north in places like northern Canada and Iceland, but during high geomagnetic activity, they can be spotted much farther south.

So what causes the high geomagnetic activity? The sun's magnetic fields have two different polarities which ripple as they travel away from the star. Right now, Earth is passing from a region of space with one polarity, to a region with the opposite polarity.

In other words, it's a good time to see the northern lights.

This video includes clips from AV LAPPI / CC BY 3.0Harriniva Hotels&Safaris / CC BY 3.0 and NASA and images from NOAA.