Look up! You may be able to see the northern lights in Canada Friday night


People in some parts of Canada may be able to see the aurora borealis, or northern lights, on Friday due to a passing solar storm.

The potential light show is due to a coronal mass ejection that occurred on Tuesday, Jul. 4, according to Natural Resources Canada.

Ljubomir Nikolic, space weather scientist at the Canadian Hazard Information Service, told in an email the northern lights could appear on both Friday and Saturday.

However, Nikolic mentioned people will only be able to see them in the “auroral zone,” which is in the northern parts of the country.

While this may sound like good news to skyviewers, the solar storm is bad news for Earth’s magnetic field.

Nikolic says the powerful sun explosion combined with “high speed solar wind streams from a coronal hole could cause disturbed geomagnetic conditions.”

The sun is constantly shedding solar materials into space both in steady flows and in more energetic bursts, according to Nikolic. When these materials, like the particles flying through Earth this weekend, reach the globe’s magnetic environment, it causes geomagnetic storms.

These geomagnetic storms caused by solar flares can disturb satellites and communication signals around the world. According to NASA’s records, this happened before, in March 1989 when the entire province of Quebec suffered an electrical blackout.

As we approach the next “solar maximum” – a peak in the Sun’s 11-year activity cycle – which is expected to arrive in 2025, these solar storms can have more devastating effects.

On Friday, Space Weather Canada tweeted about the possibility of “stormy geomagnetic activity.”

Nikolic also confirmed “active to stormy conditions are expected,” over the weekend. 


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