Northern lights sighting possible in Michiana on Saturday

Cropped Photo: Courtesy: USAF

Astronomers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast the northern lights, or aurora borealis, to possibly be visible as far south as the Michigan/Indiana border in the early morning hours this Saturday, as well as Saturday night.

Auroral displays often occur 2-4 days after a coronal mass ejection, or a solar flare. Incredibly hot molecules above the surface of the sun often "bump" and "bounce" off one another, causing explosive activity. Free electrons and protons are thrown from the sun’s surface and blown toward the earth on a solar wind.

Since these molecules are positively and negatively charged, they can be drawn in or deflected by the Earth’s magnetic field.

When charged particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they react, chemically, with the nitrogen, oxygen and other gases that surround the Earth.

A significant increase in sunspot activity this past Wednesday will result in an increase in viewing potential for the northern lights this weekend.

For the best possible viewing, find an area that is free from "light pollution," and head north! The lights will be visible along and north of the state border between Indiana and Michigan.

"Aurora borealis," the lights of the northern hemisphere, means "dawn of the north."