Northern Lights: Second chance to witness celestial light show

Posted By: The Ski Channel on August 4, 2010 5:53 pm

If you didn’t catch the northern lights last night, the plasma blasts sent by the sun toward Earth may just keep on painting the skies tonight with their celestial light show.

Space-weather experts say that there’s a 20% chance for major geomagnetic activity tonight – an event that would be much stronger than last night’s solar storm. The result would be northern lights that are visible further south given such an event.

However, it’s more likely the solar storm will not exceed last night’s strength, which bested forecasters’ predictions.

Assuming tonight’s storm only matches last night’s, stargazers in the right spots across northern Europe, Canada and the northern US would earn a rare, second opportunity to take in the lights and their sweeping red, blue, and green “curtains.”

A big factor in the uncertainty of tonight’s solar storm activity stems from the distance currently separating the plasma mass that hit Earth yesterday and the next one coming behind it. The later the second round of plasma hits, the more time the Earth’s already unstable magnetic field has time to recover. In essence, the earlier it arrives, the better the chance of a major event, something that would be good news for all those hoping to catch a gilmpse of the ultra-rare beauty.