Idaho stargazers could get a treat this week thanks to a celestial storm, according to predictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Northern Lights will be visible farther south than normal thanks to a disruption to the Earth’s magnetosphere, according to NOAA. That disruption sends the electrons in the atmosphere into overdrive, causing them to emit photons that we see as light — the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights.
Often, these disturbances are caused by solar flares. This instance, predicted to take place between Wednesday and Saturday, is the result of a coronal hole high speed stream, according to NOAA. The agency has issued a moderate (G2) geomagnetic storm watch for Sept. 13.
What’s the best way to try to catch a glimpse of the glowing spectacle? Keep tabs on a scale called the Kp index at the NOAA website. When the Kp index is higher than 7, our area could see some of the aurora. (G2 storms generally produce a Kp index of about 6.)
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The Treasure Valley is slightly south of NOAA’s “most likely” predicted range for the lights at about 8 Kp.
North Idahoans are much more likely to see the lights, though widespread wildfire smoke could cloud their view. In the Treasure Valley, you’ll maximize your chance of seeing the aurora if you’re out of the Boise area, meteorologists say. Light pollution from the city makes all kinds of atmospheric and outer space events more difficult to observe.