June 18th, 2024

Northern lights possible over Canada after sunspot behind big solar storm returns

By The Canadian Press on May 31, 2024.

The northern lights could return to the sky over parts of Canada as a sunspot that contributed to a recent stunning aurora display rotates back Earth-side. A person takes a photo of the northern lights in Vancouver, on Saturday, May 11, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns

The northern lights could return to the sky over parts of Canada as a sunspot that contributed to a recent stunning aurora display rotates back Earth-side.

A sunspot that earlier this month unleashed a series of solar flares and the largest in nearly two decades has turned back toward Earth and let loose another powerful, but less intense, flare this week.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which rates geomagnetic storms on a five-point scale, is forecasting a moderate G2 storm peaking Friday, compared to the severe G4 storm in early May.

NOAA’s Friday night aurora forecast shows the view line, the most southern extent of where the northern lights might be seen, cutting across the Toronto area and through the Atlantic Region around Moncton, N.B.

The forecast shows a low likelihood of spotting the northern lights along a path from Vancouver through to Winnipeg and Thunder Bay, Ont., with a higher likelihood in northern parts of the provinces and territories.

Space Weather Canada also issued a major geomagnetic storm watch for what’s known as the auroral zone, a band covering much of the territories and northern parts of the provinces.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 31, 2024.

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