New Yorkers and Chicagoans Might Be Able to See the Northern Lights From Their Backyards This Week—Here's Why

The aurora borealis will illuminate the sky until August 19.

colorful northern lights
Photo: Nutexzles / Getty Images

On a few lucky occasions, certain celestial phenomenons are visible from Earth—think everything from rare supermoons to shooting stars. Solar storms that occur in outer space also give us a view inside the happenings of the universe: The result is called aurora borealis, more commonly known as the northern lights.

Even though this light show is typically only visible in the northern-most regions of the world, residents in areas as low as the midwest might be able to take in the one-of-a-kind sight until tomorrow, Insider reports. The northern lights happen when eruptions of electrically charged plasma from the sun hit our planet's atmosphere and interact with the gases in space. This causes bright (usually green or blue) colors to stream through the sky.

A solar storm is happening right now, and as a result, the lights became visible from some unexpected parts of the country at 1 a.m. EST today; certain areas experienced minor light views, known as G1. They will likely continue to be visible and even extend to areas including New York, N.Y.; Chicago, Ill.; and Portland, Ore.; per the Space Weather Prediction Center.

The eruptions are formally called coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Each time these CMEs occur, the particles travel towards our planet and create a geomagnetic storm. You can take in these rare northern lights now until August 19 in more southern regions because of the strong conditions (known as G3), the result of several CMEs taking place at once.

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