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Chance to see 'Northern Lights' forecast Wednesday night

Chance to see 'Northern Lights' forecast Wednesday night
Wade Kitner looks at the aurora borealis as he fishes in Ventura, Iowa, on Tuesday, June 23, 2015. (Arian Schuessler, Associated Press)

The "Northern Lights" put on a colorful show early Tuesday that was visible as far south as Virginia and Texas, and the aurora borealis could be visible again Wednesday, according to space weather forecasters.

A burst of energy from the sun created a geomagnetic storm rated G4, or "severe", Monday night into Tuesday morning. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the potent blast of magnetic plasma shot out of the sun on Sunday, travelling faster than usual, hitting Earth with the biggest solar storm since at least March, and possibly since September 2005.

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Skywatchers from across Canada and the northern United States -- as well as areas well farther south than auroras are typically seen -- have been sharing stunning images of green ribbons and a pink glow in the sky on spaceweather.com.

Now, another wave of solar particles that erupted from the sun Monday is expected to reach Earth about 7 p.m. Wednesday.

"This timing bodes well for aurora watchers in North America," forecasters with the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado, said.

The forecasters said to stay tuned for more detailed estimates of the solar storm's strength, which would determine the chances of auroras reaching southward again.

The colors of the aurora are created when the energetic solar particles excite gases in Earth's atmosphere. When the particles energize oxygen atoms, they emit green light, or red if they are especially excited. Nitrogen atoms give off blue light.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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