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. photo: a commuter looks at a small map of the London Tube in 2009
    Maps

    Help! The London Tube Map Is Out of Control.

    It’s never been easy to design a map of the city’s underground transit network. But soon, critics say, legibility concerns will demand a new look.

  2. Perspective

    Why Car-Free Streets Will Soon Be the Norm

    In cities like New York, Paris, Rotterdam, and soon San Francisco, car-free streets are emerging amid a growing movement.

  3. a map of future climate risks in the U.S.
    Maps

    America After Climate Change, Mapped

    With “The 2100 Project: An Atlas for A Green New Deal,” the McHarg Center tries to visualize how the warming world will reshape the United States.

  4. Videos

    A Wonderfully Clear Explanation of How Road Diets Work

    Planner Jeff Speck leads a video tour of four different street redesigns.

  5. photo: A man boards a bus in Kansas City, Missouri.
    Transportation

    Why Kansas City’s Free Transit Experiment Matters

    The Missouri city is the first major one in the U.S. to offer no-cost public transportation. Will a boost in subsidized mobility pay off with economic benefits?

×