U. S. Could Get Rare View of Northern Lights

Swirls of green and red appear in an aurora over Whitehorse, Yukon on the night of September 3, 2012 in this NASA handout image. (PHOTO CREDIT: Reuters/Courtesy of David Cartier, Sr./NASA/Handout)
Swirls of green and red appear in an aurora over Whitehorse, Yukon on the night of September 3, 2012 in this NASA handout image. (PHOTO CREDIT: Reuters/Courtesy of David Cartier, Sr./NASA/Handout)

Stargazers across a wide swath of the United States could get a rare view on Friday of the northern lights, a colorful cosmic display normally only visible in far northern latitudes.

The northern lights, or Aurora Borealis, was expected to be visible after dark on the East Coast from Maine to as far south as Maryland, and across large parts of Michigan and Iowa.

Forecasters said northwestern states including Idaho and Washington were expected to get the best view of the phenomenon, in which the sky is illuminated with streaks and swirls of green, red, blue and yellow.

The northern lights are the result of collisions between the Earth’s gaseous particles and matter released by the Sun’s atmosphere, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The collisions can jar the magnetosphere around the Earth’s north and south poles, releasing colorful streams into the sky.

The solar flares that were sent towards Earth this week were very large, the NOAA said, indicating that the aurora will be visible at a far greater distance than normal.

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SOURCE: Reuters
Victoria Cavaliere