The northern lights will be visible in parts of the US Wednesday night

Posted at 2:45 PM, Nov 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-20 15:45:02-05

By Paul P. Murphy, CNN

(CNN) -- Thanks to a minor geomagnetic storm, the northern lights may be visible in parts of the northern United States and across Canada on Wednesday night.

According to NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center, an explosion of solar energy from the sun is set to slam into the Earth Wednesday night. There's nothing to fear from the solar storm; the only issue is potential weak power grid fluctuations.

But a fun side effect will be the aurora borealis activity.

Auroral activity will be high Wednesday night, according to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Geophysical Institute. The peak times to view the northern lights will be from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. ET, and across other North American timezones as well.

"Weather permitting, highly active auroral displays will be visible overhead from Inuvik, Yellowknife, Rankin and Iqaluit to Juneau, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay and Sept-Iles, and visible low on the horizon from Seattle, Des Moines, Chicago, Cleveland, Boston, and Halifax," the institute says on its website.

Obviously, a clear sky is needed to see the northern lights. It's also better to view the solar activity in a dark sky, meaning that light pollution and the moon's brightness can limit the ability to see the aurora.

The aurora borealis is created by electrically charged particles from the sun hitting the Earth and colliding with the atmosphere. The collision generates energy, which creates the light that makes the aurora visible.

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