CHICAGO, IL – Residents of northern U.S. states, including Illinois, may be able to witness the Northern Lights on Tuesday night. While the auroras may not be as strong as the recent ones caused by a geomagnetic storm last week, they still present an opportunity to witness the stunning natural phenomenon.
Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the sun can create a stunning show in the night sky, with particles interacting with oxygen and nitrogen to create auroras. A minor solar flare and CME last week sent the northern lights flowing across the night skies as far south as Alabama and Northern California.
Another CME was expected to impact Earth on Sunday, with a low likelihood of aurora-viewing across the northern U.S. from Washington then east to Michigan and New York. Tuesday night’s forecast predicts similar levels of viewing chances, with the southern extent of the auroras potentially reaching as far south as southern Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as the northern portions of Maine, New York, and Idaho.
While North Dakota has the best chance to catch the auroras, Illinois residents and those in portions of Washington, Idaho, Montana, and South Dakota may also be able to witness the phenomenon.
This occurrence is part of the sun’s activity, which flips its magnetic poles every 11 years. The current transition is approaching its midpoint, known as solar maximum.