Technology & Science

Northern lights forecast across Canada this weekend

Look up at the night sky this weekend for a chance to see the northern lights.

Sunspot activity suggests there will be a good display July 16-17

The northern lights fill the sky in this image taken near Dafoe, Sask., in May. There's a good chance Canada will be treated to a vibrant northern lights display this weekend. (Notanee Bourassa)

Look up at the night sky this weekend for a chance to see the northern lights.

A massive sunspot has appeared recently, several times larger than the Earth, which is likely to generate a display of the aurora borealis.

The sunspot has released a stream of particles through a coronal mass ejection. Those particles will travel along a fast solar wind in the direction of Earth.

If those particles arrive and interact with the magnetic field around the Earth and its atmosphere, it will produce an array of colours — possibly green, red and purple — in the northern skies across Canada.

The last time Canada had an especially vibrant display of the northern lights was at the end of May. The sky lit up across the country and even south into the United States.

The northern lights reflect off a lake in Bloomfield, Ont., on the night of May 28-29. (Malcolm Park)

The U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center has called for a moderate geomagnetic storm — which is responsible for putting on the colourful display — from July 16 to 17 (Greenwich time). 

The farther north in latitude you are, the better the chance of seeing the northern lights. As well, your best chance at catching them is to get away from city lights. But overall, Canada is in a good position to see them.