Stargazers may be in for a treat this Saturday night. A solar flare that shot off the sun around 2 a.m. Thursday morning may mean that the Aurora Borealis, commonly known as the Northern Lights, could be visible for much of the Northern United States and Canada along with Northern Europe. The best time to view the Northern Lights will be around 8 p.m. EDT this Saturday.
The Northern Lights are a light display cause by the collision of energetically charged particles with other atoms in the thermosphere layer of Earth's atmosphere. These particles originate from the solar winds the constantly buffer Earth and from the magnetosphere layer of Earth's atmosphere. Earth's natural magnetic field suck these particles in, causing them to collide with other atoms in the atmosphere with spectacular results.
Of course watching it will be highly dependent on local weather conditions. A cloudy sky will unfortunately mean that your chance of seeing the astronomical phenomena will decrease sharply, so hope for a clear sky. In the meantime here are some awe-inspiring picture of the Northern Lights for those us who are not fortunate enough to be in a good viewing position.
However, if you live in the areas in the map above and have a clear sky, be sure to keep your eyes to the skies. You may be able to catch a spectacular cosmic light show that normally requires days of travel to see, all from the comfort of your own backyard.