You don't need to live north of the Arctic Circle to see the northern lights. On rare occasions, the phenomenon is visible from upper parts of the contiguous U.S. That will be the case this week, when the aurora borealis lights up skies above Maine, Michigan, and other states across the northern border.
As Thrillist reports, the Space Weather Prediction Center has forecast G1 and G2 geomagnetic storms for Sunday, September 27 through Tuesday, September 29. A geomagnetic storm occurs when activity on the sun shoots solar particles toward our planet. At high latitudes, those particles react with gas molecules in the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in waves of green, pink, blue, and purple light undulating in the night sky.
Normally auroras are limited to the poles, because that's where the concentration of magnetic energy is the strongest. It takes an especially potent solar storm to make the spectacle appear farther south, and that's exactly what's been predicted for early this week. The first storm, a G1 or minor level, is set to last from September 27 through the 28th. It will be followed immediately by a G2 or moderate-level solar storm on September 29.
Northern lights from the G1 storm have already been spotted in Minnesota, and the aurora from the G2 storm is expected to extend even lower. States that have a shot at catching the northern lights on Tuesday include Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.