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NOAA Predicts a Chance for Aurora Display This Weekend

Sun in X-ray
An X-ray vision of the Sun on Friday July 12. (NOAA/SWPC Boulder CO)

The Aurora Borealis might be visible in Montana July 13 and July 14, according to forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Sun has released what is called a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), which is expected to hit our planet’s magnetic field this weekend.

It takes a while for such material to reach Earth and react to our planet’s magnetic field, but the best estimates are for July 13th and there is a 40 percent chance of polar geomagnetic storms, which can cause bright auroras.

A CME usually happens near sunspots and there can be quite a few CMEs during the Sun’s active cycle. Scientists have noticed that this current active cycle has not produced as many sunspots, CMEs and other storms. The cause is unknown, but it might be part of a longer cycle of behavior at the Sun.

There’s no “best time” to look for aurora, but those of us who have seen the display know that you need to be patient, letting your eyes adjust to the dark, watching for for what seem like waves of light in the sky. They can be very faint with just a glow. But at other times, very bright and active, with the classic “curtains” of light. We don’t see those very often in the Bitterroot Valley.

Here are some recent aurora photos from around the world

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