A massive burst of solar energy is expected to reach the Earth on New Year's Eve, which may produce visible aurora in certain latitudes around the world.
Could New Year’s Eve be the night you finally witness the Northern Lights? According to a report from the Washington Post, a massive burst of gas and magnetism from the sun, known as a coronal mass ejection, began making its way toward Earth on December 28. When a coronal mass ejection reaches the planet’s magnetic field, it produces a brilliant light show known as an aurora.
Headlines have danced around the subject of when and where on planet Earth the aurora borealis will be visible tonight, but unfortunately scientists say that most people will miss the show. The recent coronal mass ejection was big enough to significantly affect the Earth’s magnetic field, but only people in northern latitudes will notice increased visibility.
The magnetic activity, while still ongoing, actually peaked on December 30. While the thought of a bright and glowing New Year’s sky is appealing, the best view very well may have occurred the night before. In some areas, however, the magnetism likely will peak during daylight hours.
It takes dedication, commitment, and more often than not, a plain ticket to get a truly stunning view of the aurora borealis. The northern lights are the stuff of legend in mid-latitude regions, and many people will go their entire lives without ever witnessing the phenomenon in person. Even if you do make it to Canada, Iceland or Alaska to catch a glimpse, the conditions need to be just right.
City lights and clouds in the sky could both ruin an otherwise good view of the northern lights, so if you do live in an area of high geomagnetic latitude, make sure you find a nice dark spot.
More information about auroras and how they form can be found here.