The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, typically draw thousands of astronomers and photographers each year, as this spectacular, natural light show dances across the sky. But, this weekend you may not need to jet off to Iceland or Norway to get a glimpse of the colorful sky.
Due to a large solar flare emitted by the sun on September 6, as reported by NASA, you may be able to see the Northern Lights in highly unusual areas. In fact, they may be visible as far south as Chicago, Northern England, and Southern Germany over the next few days. The chances of the Aurora Borealis reaching these areas is dependent on whether the solar material emitted from the sun reaches our atmosphere, but if everything lines up just right, we could be in luck. In fact, BBC is already reporting sightings in Scotland early morning on Friday (September 8).
How does one view the Northern Lights? No special equipment is needed, just a clear, unobstructed view north and a dark sky. That means city dwellers will need to travel to a spot free of light pollution. And don't bank on seeing the lights overhead, as you'll often find in pictures taken in Norway or Iceland. Further south it's more likely you'll see them on the northern horizon, so try standing on a hill, wide open field, or beach for the best views.
If you are looking to dip into astrophotography and take some pictures, be sure to use a tripod and long exposure time for maximum impact. And to help you discover whether or not the Aurora Borealis will be visible in your area, NOAA has both a 3-day and 30-minute forecast available.