Science

Auroras expected to dazzle again tonight

Tonight, the northern lights are expected to give a great show even in southern Canada, for the second time this week.

Northern lights were seen as far south as Washington, D.C., on Monday night

The northern and southern lights, Mother Nature's kaleidoscopic treat, will make a repeat performance on Wednesday.

A solar storm will slam into the Earth on Wednesday at about 7 p.m. ET (2300 GMT) due to a solar flare earlier in the week, with the potential to disrupt power and satellite service, according to the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center.

According to Service Aurora, which predicts the northern lights, the aurora will peak between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. ET.

The solar storm will be the second to hit the Earth this week. On Monday, a severe geomagnetic storm sparked an intense aurora, the natural electric phenomenon that creates bright and colourful light displays in the skies, that was visible much further from the poles than usual.

In northern latitudes, the northern lights are usually only visible in Canada, Alaska and northern Europe, but were seen as far south as Washington, D.C., on Monday, according to local reports.

In the Southern Hemisphere, reports from Australia said the southern lights, usually only visible in Tasmania, were visible across much of the country.

On Wednesday, the Space Weather Prediction Center said the northern lights should be visible across most of Canada and in the U.S. northern tier states of North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan and northern Maine.

Viewing tips

You'll probably be able to see them only if the weather is clear in your area, as clouds can block your view.

If possible, go somewhere with dark skies, away from city lights, with a wide, clear view of the sky.

You'll have darker skies later in the evening, as the moon is expected to set between 12:30 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. in most of Canada. However, auroral activity may be waning at that point.

The storms that began on Monday reached the "severe" G4 level on the Space Weather Prediction Center's geomagnetic storm scale.

The centre measures geomagnetic storms on a five-level scale, with G1 a minor storm and G5 an extreme storm.

A G4 storm can cause possible voltage control problems for some power systems and degrade satellite navigation and radio service, the centre said.

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