Northern Lights to appear; here's how to see them

If viewing the northern lights is something on your bucket list, make sure you pencil in some free time this weekend as they could visible as far south as I-70! The best opportunity will be Saturday evening and Saturday night, not Friday night. The effects of the incoming geomagnetic storm will be felt most significantly late Saturday as it now appears. A G2 (Moderate) geomagnetic storm watch was issued by NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center on Wednesday in anticipation of the arrival of a coronal mass ejection (CME) here on Earth this weekend. A CME is essentially a huge release of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun's corona. When these occur and head toward Earth, they can interfere with our planet's magnetosphere, thus creating the northern lights. Other effects from the approaching CME that could occur are minor impacts on power systems, spacecraft operations and HF radio propagation, per the National Weather Service. With this particular geomagnetic storm expected to be "Moderate" in strength, the likelihood of any significant and potentially harmful impacts is low. So, back to the Northern Lights... 

Will they be visible?

Yes, they could be visible anywhere north of Interstate 70, but areas with the absolute best chance at seeing them will be north of the Indiana-Michigan border. If you can head to a location north of I-94, your chances of seeing them are MUCH higher.

When will they be visible?

Predicting exactly when the Northern Lights will dance across the sky is far from a perfect science. But it looks like the window for visibility will be Saturday evening and night.

Where is the best place to go to see them? 

Venture out to a place away from cities, light pollution and tall objects. A flat, open area with nothing obstructing your view to the north is ideal. If we had to pick an ideal location, we'd suggest heading to Lake Michigan or an elevated area with a clear view to the north.

What makes this particular event even better is the fact that Mother Nature will cooperate. In March, clear skies are often hard to come by. However, a large area of high pressure will keep all of Michiana and surrounding states mainly clear during the peak time Saturday evening and night. The only negative will be the moon. With Saturday being just a few days removed from the full moon, there will be a good deal of moonlight to contend with. This won't make the Northern Lights impossible to see, but it could hinder our shot just a bit. Regardless, it's not often that we see storms of "Moderate" or higher magnitude, so we suggest heading out and giving it a go! You never know what you'll see. Just take some snacks, dress warmly and enjoy the night sky. If you'd like to track the Lights real-time, try this website.

***NOTE: The original article stated that FRIDAY would be the day for best viewing in Michiana and surrounding areas. This has all been updated to the correct day, SATURDAY.***

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