Northern Lights visible in Wyoming, Nebraska — The Know

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center issued a Geomagnetic Storm Watch. What does that mean? A powerful solar flare is headed for Earth, but it’s not a threat. Instead, the storm could bring quite the show when it clashes with Earth’s magnetic field.

The continental United States will get the rare chance to see the aurora borealis, better known as the Northern Lights, Wednesday through Friday. The peak of the storm should come late Wednesday into Thursday, bringing the possibility of seeing the spectacle as far south as Nebraska and Wyoming.

Colorado will miss out because this storm won’t be strong enough. It’s expected to be considered a G3, which qualifies as strong. The last G5 storm — the strength needed to be seen from as far south as the Denver metro area — last occurred in 2005.

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Canada’s Northern Lights Centre qualifies the northern lights as “the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere.”

The sky’s color changes are due to gas particles’ interactions in the magnetosphere when they collide with particles from the solar storm. The hues can range from greens to pinks to sometimes even flashes of violet. If you are far north enough to see the light show, it is best to get away from light pollution and cloud cover.

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