The otherworldly event is forecast to arrive from a “solar sector boundary crossing.”

NOAA/SWPC

Even if it takes gluing your eyelids open, it might be worth staying up late this weekend to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis in the northern U.S.

Shimmering lights could bedazzle the heavens Friday or Saturday as the planet sails through an appendage of the sun’s magnetic field. Tony Phillips at Spaceweather explains:

On April 29th or 30th, Earth will cross a fold in the heliospheric current sheet—a vast wavy structure in interplanetary space separating regions of opposite magnetic polarity. This is called a “solar sector boundary crossing,” and it could trigger geomagnetic activity around Earth’s poles. NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms on April 29th.

Auroras might flare above Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Alaska, and possibly elsewhere, to judge from the Space Weather Prediction Center’s map shown above. (Look for the green line.) As the event approaches, check the center’s regularly updated forecasts for possible viewing locations.

The aurora borealis as seen in Norway last October. (Johnny Henriksen/NASA)

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. a photo of a Metro PCS store in Washington, D.C.
    Equity

    What D.C.’s Go-Go Showdown Reveals About Gentrification

    A neighborhood debate over music swiftly became something bigger, and louder: a cry for self-determination from a community that is struggling to be heard.

  2. The facade of a casino in Atlantic City.
    Photos

    Photographing the Trumpian Urbanism of Atlantic City

    Brian Rose’s new book uses the deeply troubled New Jersey city as a window into how a developer-turned-president operates.

  3. Tech workers sit around a table on their laptops in San Francisco, California
    Life

    America’s Tech Hubs Still Dominate, But Some Smaller Cities Are Rising

    Despite established urban tech hubs, some smaller cities are attracting high-tech jobs with lower living costs, unique talent pools, and geographic diversity.

  4. Equity

    The Hidden Horror of Hudson Yards Is How It Was Financed

    Manhattan’s new luxury mega-project was partially bankrolled by an investor visa program called EB-5, which was meant to help poverty-stricken areas.

  5. A photo of Ellicott City's Main Street
    Environment

    How Historic Ellicott City Plans to Survive the Next Flood

    After catastrophic storms in 2016 and 2018, the Maryland mill town has five flood control plans. But it faces hard choices on how to avoid future disasters.