By Terry Eliasen, Meteorologist, WBZ-TV Exec. Weather Producer
BOSTON - It is one of the most exciting and awe-inspiring sights on Earth. The Aurora Borealis, otherwise known as the Northern Lights. Unless you have spent a bunch of time in northern latitudes (Canada, Alaska, Arctic Circle anyone?), my guess is, most of you reading this have never seen an Aurora. Personally, I had one brief glimpse, many years ago, driving down Route 2 on my way home from work, a curtain of red magically appeared overhead. By the time I pulled over it had all but vanished.
It is very rare, living as far south as we do (relatively speaking), to see an Aurora. Typically a few times each year we will get some amazing pictures from places like Mount Washington. Several months ago, there were some sightings from Cape Ann and Cape Cod off in the far northern horizon.
There is a chance Thursday night.
I wouldn't bet the farm on it or plan my evening around it, but it is worthy of a mention.
When we try to forecast the likelihood of an Aurora sighting, we look to something called the "kp index". This comes from a German term "Planetarishe Kennziffer" meaning Planetary Index. Long story short, this is basically a measure of the geomagnetic activity in Earth's atmosphere, which gets disturbed when we are hit by solar flares.
The sun ejects some matter out into space, sometimes that "stuff" heads for our planet and hits our outer atmosphere. When this happens these collisions of molecules cause various waves of color.
Well, is just so happens, that a few days ago, we had one of these solar flaresfrom the Sun and head in our direction. The best chance to see an Aurora was actually Wednesday night, but clouds in our area made it impossible to see anything. However, the astronauts aboard the International Space Station got quite a view!
These pics were posted on Twitter by Bob "Farmer" Hines.
We certainly won't see anything nearly that spectacular Thursday night. Most indications are that the activity is waning. In order for us to have a shot at seeing anything, we typically need a kp index of at least 7. Thursday night's forecast is between 4-7.
While it won't be nearly as cloudy as Wednesday night, there will be some clouds around this evening, I'd call it partly cloudy.
Bottom line, you probably aren't going to see anything Thursday night. BUT, if you happen to be up late and have a clear sky with a good view to the north, why not take a look? And, just in case, have your camera nearby. If you get lucky, send us a pic email@example.com!
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