Strong geomagnetic storm means bright, dynamic Aurora Borealis viewing Wednesday night

The Northern Lights will dance above a few clouds through Thursday morning
Posted at 3:17 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-09 18:00:40-05

MISSOULA — Between a brilliant meteor shower and a "super planet" viewing forecast this month, there is a lot of celestial excitement keeping our eyes to the sky.

Tonight, however, we add in one more event!

No stranger to Montana, the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis, have been dancing over our skies for centuries.

Tonight marks a special event for Montana and our neighbors further to the south!

A very strong geomagnetic storm is on its way to Earth.

Strong solar bursts from Coronal Mass Ejects (CMEs) have been released from the sun.

This geomagnetic force then interacts with our atmosphere.

We can see this happening, because the Northern Lights become visible!

This particular storm is a much stronger storm than average.

Therefore, the Aurora Borealis will be visible a little further south than normal.

Across Montana, we can expect to see the Northern Lights dance brilliantly across our skies as the Space Weather Prediction Center (yes there is space weather!) expects a G3, Kp=7 storm.

The Kp scale ranges from Kp=0 to Kp=9.

Kp=7 sits on the higher end of that scale which means we can expect a bright, dynamic, colorful display of the Aurora!

Besides having to peek through a few clouds here and there earlier in the evening, skies clear as the night progresses.

Might want to grab a jacket before heading out!

Peak viewing time is hard to estimate, but around 8PM- 11PM will be a good time to try to catch some of the Northern Lights display.

You'll need to get away from city lights and light pollution.

As you head out of town temperatures will be in the 20s around peak viewing time!