Northern Lights

Northern Lights in New England: Where and When You Could See the Aurora

The NOAA SWPC has issued a geomagnetic storm watch, and many in New England are hoping for a chance to see the northern lights

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The northern lights will be visible across northern New England Thursday night.

While the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Space Weather Prediction Center has issued a geomagnetic storm watch as soon as Wednesday night, our skies in northern New England will remain cloudy in much of the northeast through early Thursday afternoon.

However, our opportunity to see the aurora brightens up Thursday night, when a stronger geomagnetic storm is expected. We'll see departing clouds through the late evening hours, bringing hope for stargazers.

Being able to see the aurora mainly depends on two factors: your geographic location and the geomagnetic activity.

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Geomagnetic activity represents the degree of disturbance of the earth's magnetic field at the time of the event. We rely on an index called Kp — this number will range from zero to nine and is used to refer the geomagnetic activity in a three-hour period. In order to have a better chance for sight, you'll want to have a Kp of five or greater and be located closer to the poles. Thursday brings KP indexes higher and may run up as high as seven between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Other effects of a geomagnetic storm level G3 (strong) would be expected to be minimal; however, there could be a small impact on power grid fluctuations, satellite irregularities, and radio and GPS signals that may temporarily fail or become weak for the time being.

An aurora may be seen as far south as Oregon, northern Iowa and Pennsylvania. A G2 (moderate) storm watch has been posted for Aug. 19.

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