The Northern Lights could be visible from 17 US states on Thursday, including places as far south as Maryland, the Associated Press reported.
The colorful sky display, which is also known as aurora borealis, is most frequently seen in places like Canada and Scandinavia, but an upcoming solar storm means the lights are expected to be visible from parts of the US.
According to The AP, the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks expects “auroral activity” in Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Indiana, Maine, and Maryland.
People in parts of the country including Annapolis, Maryland and Boise, Idaho, should also be able to see the lights low on the horizon, the report adds.
To see the aurora, it’s vital to have “clear and dark sky,” per the Geophysical Institute, which adds that “the best time to watch for aurora is the three or four hours around midnight, but aurora occurs throughout the night.”
Those hoping to get a good view should get away from city lights between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. local time, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommended, per The AP.
An Aurora occurs when solar winds — charged particles in a wind stream — collide with Earth’s magnetic fields, which causes atoms light up.
Thursday’s lights are set to be more visible as the forecasted solar storm will result in increased auroral activity.
Solar maximums — when solar activity is at its greatest — take place roughly every 11 years. The current cycle is expected to peak in 2024, which has led to more solar storms and auroral activity as far south as California and Arizona.
According to the Geophysical Institute, in one rare event in 1958, the Northern Lights were even visible from Mexico City.