Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Northern Lights in Northern Illinois?

It's a possibility late tonight and tomorrow night! Although we'll be on the southern fringe of the display, a strong solar flare on Sunday night has scientists buzzing of a possible display of the Aurora Borealis (commonly called the Northern Lights) from the north pole down to the northern United States. An ejection of plasma from the flare (shown above, courtesy of FOXNews.com) will send solar particles into the earth's magnetic field. These particles will collide with nitrogen and oxygen atoms, releasing energy that can be seen as a glow of neon-like lights on the northern horizon. The lights are often green or red in appearance, and take-on a curtain-like shape.

Although the Stateline will see a lot of cloud cover by the time the display is forecast to begin after midnight, tomorrow night we'll have clearer skies. Visibility will be best away from city lights and as you head further north. Wisconsin residents, for example, will have a better chance of seeing the display.  --TS

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