Northern Lights Saturday Night: When And Where To Catch Aurora Borealis

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Forecasters at NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center have reported that a solar flare that took place Thursday morning may create norhern lights on Saturday evening.

AccuWeather.com Astronomer Hunter Outten has revealed that the flare has been categorized a 6 to 8 on the KP index--a scale for measuring the intensity of a geomagnetic storm. What exactly does a score of 6 to 8 mean? Essentially, it means the effects of the radiation caused by the midlevel flare will have a greater reach.

Radiation from a flare like this can cause radio wave disruptions to electronic devices -- including: cell phones, GPS, and radios -- warns AccuWeather. In fact, according to NASA, Thursday's solar flare was strong enough to cause a radio blackout.

The flare effects are reportedly moving towards the Earth at 1,000 km per second with an estimated arrival time of 8 p.m. EDT. As such, the vibrant northern lights are expected to be seen in New York, New Jersey, the Dakotas, Oregon, Washington and Michigan. There is even a possibility of visibility of it reaching Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Kansas. 

That said, there is no guarantee in the time or location of the northern lights. In terms of time, there is a seven hour deviation possibility. Should this occur, then the East Coast may not see the radiation hits and it would only be visible for the West.

"Solar flares create auroras when radiation from the sun reaches Earth and interacts with charged protons in our atmosphere," writes AccuWeather. "The effects are greater at the magnetic poles and weaken as they move south from the Arctic or north of the Antarctic. In the northern hemisphere the results are called the aurora borealis, with the aurora australis being its southern counterpart. The result is a spectacular display of light and color for areas with clear enough views."

If you're not in the geographic region to view the northern lights, or simply want a preview of what to expect, then head over to NPR to see video footage of the 2010 Aurora Borealis.

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