Northern lights may be visible Saturday evening


Northern lights aurora borealis

A Coronal Mass Ejection is visible from the sun on Thursday, October 28 around 9:35 a.m. Colorado time.

COLORADO — According to the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, a significant solar flare and Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) occurred from the sun in the mid-morning Colorado time on Thursday. Analysis indicated the CME departed the Sun at more than 2100 m.p.h. and forecasters expect it to arrive at Earth late Saturday, with effects continuing into Halloween.

Solar flares are large eruptions of electro magnetic radiation and CMEs are large ejections of plasma and magnetic field from the sun’s corona. Remote sensing spacecraft monitor the sun for indications of these impulsive eruptions that eject material toward Earth. The travel time to Earth for such material leaving the sun is anywhere from 1 to 3 days, depending on the speed of the ejections.

Courtesy of NASA

Given the speed and strength of the ejections, forecasters are able to calculate when geomagnetic storms will arrive on earth, and how strong they are likely to be. The material with Thursday’s ejection is set to arrive and maximize early Saturday evening. The Kp index is used to calculate the magnitude of geomagnetic storms. History shows it takes a Kp index of 6 to see the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) in Denver. A Kp of 7 means we may be able to see it in the northern parts of the viewing are after the sun goes down Saturday.

As the event gets closer, you’ll be able to see forecasts for the northern lights and if we’ll be able to see them here in southern Colorado.

This is an example forecast forecast from the Space Weather Prediction Center of the northern lights .

Here’s a link to a short term forecast for the Aurora Borealis from the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder. This model updates each day at 6 p.m. and goes 48 hours into the future. The model that runs Friday evening will help give a good idea if we might be able to see it over parts of the Pikes Peak Region.

Clouds will increase as a cold front arrives late Saturday evening and early Sunday morning, so the best opportunity for seeing the northern lights, should they materialize, will be after sunset and until about 10:30 p.m.

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