It looks like the sun is fixing on tossing some energy our way. A geomagnetic storm is brewing in the northern hemisphere. That means a good chance at spotting the aurora borealis, or "northern lights." The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued a rare Severe (G4) Geomagnetic Storm Watch for the first time in 19 years. This storm is supposed to hit earth tonight (5/10) and into Sunday morning (5/12.)

What causes the northern lights?

It is crazy to think about the science behind the earth's magnetic poles. Earth is basically one big molten chunk of iron and nickel. That molten metal creates reverse poles, which create the earth's electromagnetic field. It is our electromagnetic field that protects every living creature from radioactive particles in space. Think of it as what sci-fi movies call a "force field" or "shield."

According to Wikipedia

Auroras are the result of disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by solar wind. These disturbances are sometimes strong enough to alter the trajectories of charged particles in both solar wind and magnetospheric plasma. These particles, mainly electrons and protonsprecipitate into the upper atmosphere.

kristopher roller via
kristopher roller via

So, an aurora is basically the light show that our electromagnetic field puts off when it is fighting off radioactive solar particles. These are measured in what is called a Kp index. On a scale of 0 to 9, the index measures how much geomagnetic activity will happen in the atmosphere.

What is a G4 Geomagnetic Strom?

NOA has a Space Weather Prediction Center on its website that allows you to get an accurate look at the aurora, allowing you to time perfectly when to go outside and view the lights above.

4 Super Fun Facts About Northern Lights.

The Northern Lights put on quite the show when they do appear. Living in Big Sky Country (Montana), you have the opportunity to get one of the best shows in the United States. With darkness falling across most of the state, you will have the opportunity to see the brightest colors.

Here are four fun facts you may not know about the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).

cc: Farmers Almanac

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