Northern Lights could glow over Pennsylvania this week

(WHTM) – Pennsylvania residents may get a chance to see the Northern Lights this week due to a geomagnetic storm.

According to the Space Weather Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, geomagnetic storm watches are in full effect for August 17-19. A recurrent coronal hole high-speed stream is anticipated to connect with Earth on August 17, which resulted in an elevated and disturbed solar wind field.

Geomagnetic responses are likely to escalate to “G3” or strong conditions on August 17 due to the arrival at or near Earth of multiple coronal mass ejections that have departed the sun.

A G3 storm has the potential to drive the aurora further away from its normal region, which may result in portions of the Aurora Borealis being seen over Pennsylvania, Iowa, and to northern Oregon.

Geographic location and geomagnetic activity can increase your chances of seeing the northern lights. Star watchers are more likely to see the aurora if they’re at a high latitude closer to the north or south pole.

According to NOAA, the aurora is formed “when accelerated electrons follow the magnetic field of Earth down to the Polar Regions where they collide with oxygen and nitrogen atoms and molecules in Earth’s upper atmosphere.” When this happens electrons transfer energy to the atmosphere and excite the atoms and molecules to higher energy states. When they relax back down to lower energy states, they release their energy in the form of light.

Interference to technology from a G3 storm is usually minimal, according to NOAA.

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