COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The northern lights, or aurora borealis, have been putting in an appearance in recent weeks as Solar Cycle 25 ramps up.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center, a second coronal mass ejection (CME) erupted from the sun’s outer atmoshere, or corona, on Tuesday, which followed a similar event last Sunday.
However, even if the aurora borealis makes an appearance tonight in parts of the northern U.S., clouds will be thickening after 10 p.m. across Ohio and the lower Great Lakes. Normally, the shimmering lights are confined to Canada, Scandinavia and Alaska.
A geomagnetic storm is enhanced by magnetic field activity interactions, which played a role in expansive the view of the northern lights on Apr. 24 that were visible as far south as Arizona, Oklahoma and Virginia, following a strong G4 storm (on a scale of 1 to 5).
Solar plasma streams out into space from the sun’s corona in the vicinity of solar flares, which are associated with increased sunspot activity. Plasma and magnetic fields collide with Earth’s magnetosphere to produce auroras.
The bombardment of energy striking oxygen and nitrogen atoms above Earth’s polar regions at altitudes upwards of 250 miles emits curtains or streaks of green, red and yellow light.
Powerful solar storms can interfere with radio communication, power grids, aviation and satellite navigation.
Solar activity has been increasing during the active phase of an 11-year solar cycle that is expected to peak in 2025, which means additional opportunities will arise to view the northern lights.