Beyond the Weather: Northern Lights

Published: Mar. 21, 2019 at 3:06 PM CDT
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Clouds are the key when we look beyond the weather. The good news for us is that a mostly clear sky is expected for the next couple of nights. This allows us a good view of the heavens. One event coming up is a chance to view the Northern Lights here in Iowa.

Our sun has been very active or stormy lately. These solar storms produce clouds of energy that move out into the solar system. They are called coronal mass ejections. When these solar storm clouds interact with the earth’s magnetic field, the Northern Lights can be seen.

Overnight Friday into Saturday morning is the targeted time frame. This time, the Northern Lights may be seen as far south as central Iowa. The best way to see these dancing lights is to get the darkest location possible with a great view of the northern horizon. They will appear very low on the horizon. Give your eyes 10 to 15 minutes to adjust to the darkness.

Predicting exactly when and where the Northern Lights will be visible is very challenging. Sometimes the sky is quiet, then suddenly lights up with color. Other times, they’re a no-show.

Happy stargazing!