The northern lights should put on a show, particularly over northern VT and northern NH as well as Quebec within our region on Saturday night. If you are farther south, not all is lost, there could still be a shot at seeing the aurora all the way as far south as Boston in New England on Saturday night. The photo below is a forecast for aurora viewing on Saturday night, July 14th. The shaded green region is where the northern lights should frequently display the lights, and the region within the green line but not shaded is where the aurora may still be visible low on the horizon.
A recent solar flare erupted on the surface of the sun on Thursday, which sends a wave of solar energy (charged particles) outward into space, some of which is expected to collide with Earth sometime on Saturday. This energy hits Earth's upper atmosphere, causing the molecules to "get excited", if you will, releasing light. The result is the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights here in the northern hemisphere (aurora australis/southern lights in the southern hemisphere).
Again, that green outlined region is where the aurora should be visible Saturday night. Another great website for Aurora forecasts can be found at http://helios.swpc.noaa.gov/ovation/...
Exactly when you will see the northern lights is hard to determine as I'm writing this blog. You will need to monitor the solar activity on Saturday night. It's easy to do- there are real time monitoring web sites online for this. I've posted the image below of the NOAA POES Auroral Activity page (found here with this website). You should look for when the yellow/orange colored region dips down toward your area. I've posted the image below, but I'm not certain that it will work properly with real time updates (you should be able to just refresh the page and get the latest image). But be sure to check that website just incase. The link is http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/pmap/pmapN.html
Now brings to call, the question of clouds. Will we even have a shot at seeing the lights? Not if there are clouds in the way. There will eventually be a shield of clouds moving in later Saturday overnight and through Sunday. We should still have a few hours of viewing time sometime Saturday night, but Sunday looks doubtful with plenty of clouds over the northeast. Here's the forecast for 2 am Sunday morning (overnight Saturday into Sunday). There is the band of clouds I referenced in southern Vermont and getting into northern NY. This is overall good news as there is at least a shot for many areas at seeing the lights.
If the clouds cooperate, and the energy arrives to Earth as forecast, then be sure you have your cameras ready to go and you are ready to share them on Facebook, Twitter, or our new Share Your Voice photo sharing web page.
How to view the aurora:
Most importantly, just like any nighttime sky gazing event, you should try to get away from as many lights as possible. unfortunately, events like this often go unnoticed or they seem lame in larger populated regions due to light pollution. Lights essentially drown out the night sky making it hard to see the dark up above. If you happen to live somewhere dark and remote, then I'm looking for YOUR photos this weekend if you can see the lights!