Northern lights to be visible over parts of U.S. this weekend: Here's how to see the aurora

If you live in certain areas of the United States, you may be treated to a glorious show in the sky this weekend.

The Space Weather Prediction Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, issued G1 and G2 geomagnetic storm watches for Friday and Saturday night.

What does this mean? Geomagnetic storms are disturbances in the earth’s magnetic field that can result in many hours of vibrant auroras, according to the Northern Lighthouse Project — a Canadian initiative dedicated to raising awareness about space weather.


The Aurora Borealis appears in the sky on January 8, 2017 near Fairbanks, Alaska. The lights are a result of the interaction between solar wind and the earth's magnetosphere. (Photo: Lance King/Getty Images)

The storms are a result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth's atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun's atmosphere, experts say. The variations in color are based on the type of gas particles colliding.

"Geomagnetic activity is expected to rise on September 27th due to an increasingly disturbed solar wind field associated with effects of a positive polarity coronal hole high speed stream," the SWPC states online. "Geomagnetic activity is expected to escalate further in reaction to elevated solar wind speeds approaching 700 km/s, likely leading to G2 storm levels on Saturday, September 28."

A map shared by the SWPC shows how far south the northern lights, or aurora borealis, could potentially be seen.

Canada and the northern tier of the U.S., including Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, are included as potential viewing areas, as well as New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine on the East Coast.

Of course, you’ll need darkness and clear skies to see the dazzling celestial display, which can appear in many colors. Pale green and pink are the most common, while shades of red, yellow, green, blue and violet have also been reported.

This website allows spectators to locate the darkest sky nearest to them.

This story was reported from Cincinnati.