Keep an eye on the night sky this weekend, no matter where you are across Vancouver Island or Canada for that matter, because there’s a very good chance you’ll be able to see the Aurora Borealis, aka the Northern Lights.
A geomagnetic storm watch has been issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for Saturday, October 30th.
An unusually large release of plasma from the sun is expected to cause a geomagnetic storm when it begins to arrive on Saturday night, giving much of Vancouver Island a chance of seeing the aurora borealis.
And to top it off, Environment Canada is predicting sun and clear skies all weekend.
3-Day Forecast Issued 2021 Oct 29 1230 UTC:
The greatest expected 3 hr Kp for Oct 29-Oct 31 2021 is 7 (NOAA Scale G3).
S1 or greater: 99%, 90%, 30%. R1-R2: 70%, 70%, 70%.
R3 or greater: 30%, 30%, 30%. https://t.co/gPw8AeBd9u
— NOAA Space Weather (@NWSSWPC) October 29, 2021
The rare occurrence is most likely set to occur between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Saturday for BC. The NOAA also predicts the aurora borealis may be visible as far south as Pennsylvania, to Iowa and Oregon.
Also known as the northern lights, the aurora is caused by electrons colliding with the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere.
The U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center has called for a moderate geomagnetic storm — which is responsible for putting on the colourful display.
There are a few things you can do to get prepared to watch the Northern Lights:
- Monitor the geomagnetic forecast using Canada’s Space Weather Agency
- Choose a location with little to no light pollution with the Dark Site Finder.
- Use the Clear Sky Chart to ensure there’s no cloud cover where/when you plan to view
Light pollution will spoil any view of the Northern Lights. The best option is to head north until you can see a healthy number of stars above your head.
Also, even if you are in a good position to see the aurora, it may still be quite faint, requiring a camera that can capture long exposures and some post-processing to really pick out the vibrant colours.
If you do capture an amazing photo, make sure to hashtag it with #victoriabuzz, or email us at email@example.com.