Aurora Borealis Could Be Visible As Far South As Colorado

The Aurora Borealis may light up the skies as far south as Colorado on Thursday night and Friday morning. Although there is no certainty the event will actually occur, the strong solar flare that happened earlier this week may cause the unusual event to be visible in the lower 48.

Jeffrey Newmark, a solar physicist at NASA said the flare blew off a piece of the solar atmosphere that is moving towards Earth. A solar storm happens when the magnetic field gets twisted up in a high-energy state and it relaxes, and that releases a tremendous amount of energy.

The spectacular lights are seen above the North and South Poles. They are called Aurora Borealis in the north and Aurora Australis in the south. The Aurora Borealis are usually green in color, but can sometimes turn blue and red making for an unforgettable display.

A solar storm that contains billions of tons of energetic hydrogen and helium ions, as well as protons and electrons ejected from the sun’s surface, will occur concurrently with the appearance of the Northern Lights.

The Advanced Composition Explorer satellite located about 1 million miles up in space detects solar storms and provides about half an hour warning before they get to Earth.

Predictions expect the lights will be pushed south to the Rocky Mountains, and maybe even farther, according to Joe Kunches, a forecaster with the federal Space Weather Prediction Center. The solar storms are a common event of the sun’s activity, but compared to others, this one was moderate.