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)

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