Residents in the Foothills may have a rare opportunity to view the Aurora Borealis tonight.
A strong geomagnetic storm has been predicted for Sept. 6-7, which means there's a good chance we could see the northern lights here in southern Alberta.
Dr. Phil Langill, Director of the University of Calgary's Rothney Astrophysical Observatory, says while he can't guarantee a light show, conditions are lining up just right for one.
"I was looking at the sun yesterday with a solar telescope at the Observatory and there are some very large sun spots, and those are associated with some kind of material, energetic outflow from the sun. If that material can interact with the Earth's magnetic field it will give it a shake and particles will fall out of the field to the atmosphere, and cause a nice northern lights show for us people here down on the ground."
He shares although the Aurora will most likely be visible farther North, we'll only it this far South if the geomagnetic storm is strong enough.
"If there's a particularly large and energetic precipitation of particles, that brings the particles closer to the Earth's equator, which illuminates the air and allows people closer to the equator to see the visual display."
Langill encourages residents to head out into the M.D. of Foothills to view the aurora, and if you're not sure when to head out, there is a way to track how visible the light show is.
The Rothney Astrophysical Observatory has a camera that stares at the sky all night long, and it just so happens that it's very light sensitive.
"The northern lights show up very nicely on that camera, if anybody would like to have a look at the camera they just need to go to the observatory's website. If there's northern lights going on the camera will see it before anybody's eye will, so if people are monitoring the camera and they see some aurora activity happening that might be a clue for them to head outside and see what they can see with their eye."
To view the live stream of the camera click here.
Happy sky watching!
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