Great swathes of the northern US and Canada will have a breathtaking spectacle to look forward to this week: the Northern Lights are likely to be visible anywhere from Maine to Montana to Washington this week, according to SpaceWeather.com.
The Weather Network predicts that the most visible auroras will occur over Thursday evening and the early morning hours of Friday.
Solar Flare Ups
The phenomenon, also known as the aurora borealis, is caused by solar flares dislodged by a coronal mass ejection, a violent and sudden release of plasma energy and magnetic fields emanating from the Sun.
Great flashes of colorful light appear in the night sky as these solar flares enter the Earth’s atmosphere and release energy. The greater the mass emitted by the Sun, the more dramatic and visible the auroras.
The Earth’s atmosphere acts as a shield against these space weather events, preventing us from exposure to the radiation of outer space. However, some solar flare particles make it into the upper atmosphere, where they collide with air molecules to release energy in the form of brilliant flashes of light.
READ MORE: Northern lights, known for glowing red and green colors, could be visible this week across northern US [USA Today]
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