Monday, November 16, 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 even"Pennsylvania and Iowa"have
become prime viewing grounds.""Related: Last Chance to See the Northern Lights
Before They Dim for a Decade
The skies are alive over 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."
This year has also been recognized as a "Solar
Maximum" event, the high-point of an 11-year cycle of solar flare
activity.
"
Related: Northern Lights and Craft Beer—Thursday Night in
Fairbanks, Alaska
A Northern Lights show 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."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
other 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 in recent weeks, with more that "should
last through winter."
Iowa is lighting up, too.
(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
other 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 in recent weeks, with more that "should
last through winter."
Iowa is lighting up, too.
(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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