Curtain call for northern lights?

Posted By: The Ski Channel on August 5, 2010 5:24 pm

The northern lights are set to return tonight in what is likely to be the last prime viewing opportunity for aurora-watchers to take in the celestial light show created by recent plasma blasts from the sun.

However, stargazers will be happy to learn the final waves of the solar “tsunami” arrived later than was predicted, according to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

As previously mentioned, the increased visibility of northern lights is the result of charged particles hitting the upper atmosphere and in the process turning its nitrogen and oxygen atoms into the red, green, and blue “curtains” of light.

Early reports indicate that tonight’s auroral displays won’t be as rampant as they were over the past couple of nights, where numerous states along the U.S-Canadian border reported aurorae sightings.

To increase your chances of having a successful aurora-watching mission, it’s best to avoid the light pollution given off in most cities, and head to the clear skies. Not surprisingly ski towns in these areas are usually ideal spots for these activities. Photos commonly exaggerate the sight of northern lights as they are often taken with long camera exposures, but are still very much visible during peak times between midnight and dawn.

If you miss your shot at scoping this celestial beauty, don’t worry; another meteorological phenomena is on its way. A large meteor shower is developing, as the Perseid meteor shower are set to make their arrival a week from tonight.