F-M area gets a good view of the Northern Lights

FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) — Occurring around 62 miles above the sky, The Northern Lights are dramatic and colorful light formations which can be seen when you look up.

“It looks like special effects to me, you know, it looks really wild because you see these little flashes.” says MSUM Professor Dr. Juan Cabenela.

They are caused by electrically charged particles from the sun colliding with gaseous particles in the earth’s atmosphere.

As a lot of people saw last night the lights were out and shining as bright as ever.

The lights last night were caused by a major geomagnetic storm, the biggest one in 6 years.

A geomagnetic storm is when a gust of solar wind hits the earth’s magnetic shield. When the energy comes streaming down our magnetic poles it creates the magic of the northern lights.

Dr. Cabenela explains this by saying, “These charged particles hit the atmosphere and cause the gas to Fluoresce the same way in Fluorescent lights the Fluoresce so you see the greens and the reds of aurora.”

If you’ve noticed, we have been seeing the northern lights a lot recently and there is a reason why.

This is because the sun cycle goes through 11-year phases, right now and for the next few years we are at the height of a cycle. Meaning we will be able to see the lights more commonly.

The last peak of the Solar Cycle was 2014 and the next predicted peak is 2025

“I’d say that we’re approaching a solar maximum in a few years. You’re gonna expect probably more aurora over the next few years.” says Dr. Cabenela.

A sun cycle is comparable to the sun having a heartbeat. Every eleven years or so it beats, and it beats hard which means more aurora activity.

Although, last night’s light show was unpredictable there are some ways to find out when and how you can see them.

Dr. Cabenela says, “So I’d say tonight probably would be a good night to check. It may not be as intense as last night but it’s certainly a good night to check.”

The peak hours are between 11pm and 2am, however, anytime it’s dark there is hope.

The best way to see them is outside of the city where there is less light, usually in the north.

If you want to see the beauty of the northern lights tonight could be your night.

If you missed the light show last night Professor Cabanela says there is a good chance to see them again tonight and in the next few days.

To track the northern lights click here.

Categories: Community, Local News, Minnesota News, Moorhead, North Dakota News