Thursday, November 12, 2015

Want to view the Aurora Borealis, the famed "Northern Lights?" This year you
can skip the long voyage to northern Norway or Iceland, and just stay home in
Iowa.
When you think of the Aurora Borealis, it usually conjures visions of
riding dog sleds to the outer reaches of the bitterly cold Arctic to view the
spectacular shimmering greenish lights across the night sky.
But this year,
because of a variety of factors, the Northern Lights have migrated south, like
a giant glowing green goose, to hold its light show in spectacular fashion in
Michigan as well as forecast to spread as far south as Missouri and
Virginia.
I recently caught a faint green night display off of Vancouver
Island, in southern British Colombia.
And last week, Pennsylvania and Iowa
became prime viewing grounds.""Related: Last Chance to See the Northern Lights
Before They Dim for a Decade
Moose Lake, Minnesota (Photo: Jim Brandenburg/Minden Pictures/Corbis)So
what is driving the lights so far south this year? And how long will they be
around? For some insights and predictions, World traveling club Travel spoke
with meteorologist Mike Bettes, host of "Weather Underground" on The Weather
Channel."We"re seeing high pressure systems with low humidity and clear skies
across the Midwest," Bettes said, "and these weather patterns absolutely 100
percent affect the color and intensity of the Borealis."
Related: Northern
Lights and Craft Beer—Thursday Night in Fairbanks, Alaska
Northern Lights over Montana (Photo: Ctein/Science Faction/Corbis)But the
causes are not just of this Earth.
"There"s been some recent increases in
solar activity as well, with some flares creating radiation that reacts with
the earth"s magnetic field." It is this interaction between the sun"s
radiation and our planet"s magnetic field that creates the Aurora Borealis,
the short wavelengths manifesting themselves in the form of vivid green
visible light.
This year has been recognized as a "Solar Maximum" event, the
high-point of an 11-year cycle of solar flare activity."
The
U.S.
government"s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is
tasked with monitoring solar activity and potential impact on terrestrial
weather and life.
For a cool animated Aurora Borealis forecast of where the
lights can be seen, definitely check out the NOAA"s Space Weather Prediction
Center website, updated daily.
The site also has forecasts of the geomagnetic
storms and solar flare activities that are prime drivers of the Northern
Lights, as well as displays of graphic radiation-meters that are terrifying
enough to make you want to put on a tin-foil hat.

Related: Watch: Northern
Lights Upstage Milky Way
Lights over the Hoodoos in Wyoming (Photo: Fred Hirschmann/Science
Faction/Corbis)Aside from the solar flares and regular weather conditions, one
further factor has been influencing the move of the Northern Lights.
That"s
right, the usual suspect of El Niño—the Pacific Ocean-based
weather pattern that is forecasted to bring cooler, drier air to the
U.S.
north—and all the way to Alaska throughout winter.
"El Niño
is definitely having an effect on the Borealis," Bettes said.
"It"s driving
these cool, crisp fall nights we"ve been getting, and resulting in some
spectacular displays." Bettes cited Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Alaska
as having some of the best light shows of the past couple weeks, with more
that "should last through winter."
Iowa (Photo: Mike Hollingshead/Corbis)In case you"re wondering, the
southern exposure of this year"s Borealis is far from being a record.
Bettes
said that in years past, faint lights have been spotted as far south as
northern Georgia and South Carolina, with some claims of lingering orange glow
appearing even in Cuba.
As the distance from the magnetic North Pole becomes
farther, the Earth"s atmosphere and the air"s humidity filters out the shorter
wavelengths of light (like green) and only the longer wavelength lights (like
orange) remain to be seen, so the southern locations usually don"t get the
vivid hues seen in the Arctic, but this year is proving to be an exception.
So
keep your eye on the solar flare charts, grab a thermos and a deck chair, and
get ready to enjoy some free light shows across the entire northern quarter of
the U.S.
throughout this winter.

WATCH: Iceland: "The Most Magical Layover
Ever
Let World traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
Hang out with us on
Facebook,Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Check out our original adventure
travel series, "A Broad Abroad."
Want to view the Aurora Borealis, the famed "Northern Lights?" This year
you can skip the long voyage to northern Norway or Iceland, and just stay home
in Iowa.
When you think of the Aurora Borealis, it usually conjures visions of
riding dog sleds to the outer reaches of the bitterly cold Arctic to view the
spectacular shimmering greenish lights across the night sky..Related: Watch:
Northern Lights Upstage Milky Way
Lights over the Hoodoos in Wyoming (Photo: Fred Hirschmann/Science
Faction/Corbis)Aside from the solar flares and regular weather conditions, one
further factor has been influencing the move of the Northern Lights.
That"s
right, the usual suspect of El Niño—the Pacific Ocean-based
weather pattern that is forecasted to bring cooler, drier air to the
U.S.
north—and all the way to Alaska throughout winter.
"El Niño
is definitely having an effect on the Borealis," Bettes said.
"It"s driving
these cool, crisp fall nights we"ve been getting, and resulting in some
spectacular displays." Bettes cited Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Alaska
as having some of the best light shows of the past couple weeks, with more
that "should last through winter."
Iowa (Photo: Mike Hollingshead/Corbis)In case you"re wondering, the
southern exposure of this year"s Borealis is far from being a record.
Bettes
said that in years past, faint lights have been spotted as far south as
northern Georgia and South Carolina, with some claims of lingering orange glow
appearing even in Cuba.
As the distance from the magnetic North Pole becomes
farther, the Earth"s atmosphere and the air"s humidity filters out the shorter
wavelengths of light (like green) and only the longer wavelength lights (like
orange) remain to be seen, so the southern locations usually don"t get the
vivid hues seen in the Arctic, but this year is proving to be an exception.
So
keep your eye on the solar flare charts, grab a thermos and a deck chair, and
get ready to enjoy some free light shows across the entire northern quarter of
the U.S.
throughout this winter.

WATCH: Iceland: "The Most Magical Layover
Ever
Let World traveling club Travel inspire you every day.
Hang out with us on
Facebook,Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.
Check out our original adventure
travel series, "A Broad Abroad."
Want to view the Aurora Borealis, the famed
"Northern Lights?" This year you can skip the long voyage to northern
Norway or Iceland, and just stay home in Iowa.
When you think of the Aurora
Borealis, it usually conjures visions of riding dog sleds to the outer reaches
of the bitterly cold Arctic to view the spectacular shimmering greenish lights
across the night sky.

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