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The Northern Lights Could Make a Rare Appearance Over Parts of the US This Week

The northern lights may be visible in the U.S. tonight and Thursday, from the Pacific Northwest to New England.


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Some of the world’s best places to see the northern lights—Iceland, Finland, and Sweden—are off-limits to international travelers, which makes this week even more of a treat for aurora chasers in the northern U.S.

Aurora borealis, a.k.a. the northern lights, could be visible across a much larger swath of the northern U.S. than usual tonight and Thursday. Nature’s spectacular light show may be spotted from the Pacific Northwest to New England and as far south as northern Illinois and Pennsylvania, according to the latest forecast from the Space Weather Prediction Center.

Light pollution makes it impossible to view the lights from major cities like New York, Seattle, and Minneapolis, but head out to an area that’s dark and you might just catch a glimpse. The Space Weather Prediction Center is forecasting a surge in aurora activity and has issued what it calls storm watches for Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Related: These are the Best Northern Lights Destinations in the World

The northern lights are often visible over Alaska, but sightings in the continental U.S. are rare. They’re most likely to emerge in very cold, dark places, so do bundle up before you go searching for them.

If you live further south or in the heart of a big city, try not to fret too much. The European Space Agency has created a time-lapse to show what the northern lights look like from space.

Related: How to See the Northern Lights by Train

The northern lights also are just one epic show nature is expected to provide this month. The Geminid meteor shower, which occurs each year in December, is expected to peak next week, with 50 to 120 shooting stars per hour.


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