Clear skies greeted much of the region Thursday morning, and that is going to be the trend to conclude the week. These clear skies are a welcome sight, not only during the day but at night. With temperatures getting into the 40s, we’ll see some snow melting over the next couple of days. It may reach 50 on Friday, my pick of the week.
You may have heard that there was a solar storm a few days ago. When we experience these solar storms, space/weather physicists and amateur sky-watchers get quite excited at the prospect of seeing the Northern Lights. The storm itself is basically energy from the sun hurling toward our atmosphere.
The solar wind moves toward Earth and then charges oxygen, nitrogen, and other components of our atmosphere. As these elements release energy and try to get back to an unexcited state, we subsequently can view the amazing colors known as the aurora.
Here’s the thing about the solar storms and whether or not they produce the Aurora Borealis: It’s even more difficult to forecast than my job.
The farther north you go and the better view you have of the northern horizon, the higher the likelihood you’re going to see the aurora over the next 24 hours. A lot of times when you see photographs of the aurora, it’s actually not what is visible to the naked eye, but a long exposure on a camera that enables you to photograph more than you can see.
Here’s a few tips to increase your chances of seeing the aurora. The range is usually a couple of hours after sunset until about an hour before sunrise. In the few times I have seen it, it has been as early as 9 p.m. and as late as 2 or 3 in the morning. Again, these things are not easily predicted. Get somewhere dark and always let your eyes adjust. Keep checking social media as well for sightings farther east over Central Europe, which can indicate a better chance we see them in New England.
If you do want to take advantage of the night sky and be guaranteed a good show, I highly recommend taking a look at Saturn and Jupiter. These two planets are growing closer together and will be so close they will appear as one star on the winter solstice. This is a much easier thing to see and predict. This so-called grand conjunction hasn’t happened since the Middle Ages, so it really is quite a celestial site. Imagine what the world was like in the early part of the 13th century, the last time humans could look up and see this!