To Star Gazers: Fireworks Show Called Northern Lights Coming

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
October 31, 2021 Updated: November 1, 2021

CHICAGO—A fireworks show that has nothing to do with the Fourth of July and everything to do with the cosmos is poised to be visible across the northern United States and Europe Sunday.

Parts of Canada, Alaska and Russia might see the finale of a weekend lights show Sunday that started when a large solar flare erupted Thursday and became visible to Earth starting Saturday, forecasters said.

Many parts of the northern United States had foggy, rainy, or overcast skies that hindered views of the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, meteorologists said.

But “Aurora may be visible at high latitudes, i.e., northern tier of the U.S. such as northern Michigan and Maine,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center said Sunday. “Weak power grid fluctuations can occur.”

The Northern Lights
The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, are visible in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, on Sept. 10, 2021. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

On Thursday, the sun launched what is called an “X-class solar flare” that was strong enough to spark a high-frequency radio blackout across parts of South America. The energy from that flare is trailed by a cluster of solar plasma and other material called a coronal mass ejection, or CME for short. That’s heading toward Earth, prompting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to issue a warning about a potentially strong geomagnetic storm.

It might sound like something from a science fiction movie. But really it just means that a good chunk of the northern part of the country may get treated to a light show called the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights.

Geomagnetic storms as big as what might be coming can produce displays of the lights that can be seen at high latitudes. It could also cause voltage irregularities on high-latitude power grids as the loss of radio contact on the sunlit side of the planet.

Epoch Times staff contributed to this report