BAR HARBOR – This weekend, as Mainers get ready for bed, their eyes should drift toward the sky – they just might see the northern lights. The national weather service has indicated that for those living in the northeast, there just might be an amazing display of the aurora borealis this weekend.
Now here’s the science behind the unusual light show. Toward the end of last week, Thursday to be exact, there was a huge disruption on the surface of the sun. The resulting solar flare, charged particles, and mass of plasma drifted across space until it collided with our atmosphere.
These eruptions can cause geomagnetic disturbances and storms on our planet and those conditions are perfect for the northern lights. They are not a common sight in Maine, but if you live in an area that is not subject to interference from light pollution or cloud cover, you just might see the legendary shimmering green lights.
Usually, the faster the solar storm travels and the faster it is going as it hits the outer atmosphere has a direct correlation to the intensity and quality of the aurorae that we see. There one other aspect of the storm that affects the light show. If the magnetic orientation of the blob is to the south, there will be a stronger interaction between the elements, which means more aurorae when it hits Earth’s north-oriented magnetic field.
For as long as man has looked to the night sky, the aurorae have fascinated cultures. Some have said the lights are a sign of famine and other cultures have said they are an omen of an impending war. For whatever reason, they are interesting to watch and a rare sight at these latitudes. So this weekend, look up to heavens and let us know if you see them.