Look up in the sky tonight for the dazzling northern lights show: All you need to know

NASA astronaut tweets stunning images of Aurora Borealis taken from space

In a celestial extravaganza, space enthusiasts will get another chance to witness a divine cosmic event in the form of beautiful northern lights. According to US Space Weather Prediction Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a strong geomagnetic storm will lead to the occurrence of splendid northern lights in the starry night sky on September 6 and 7.

Scientists at the NOAA revealed that coronal mass ejection took place on Monday which released a fast-moving stream of particles in the atmosphere and they expect these particles to reach Earth by Wednesday which will result in the stunning view of northern lights in the sky.

People residing in Canada will get the best view of aurora borealis; however, residents in the USA, Arctic, and polar regions will witness the astonishing view.

Scientists and space enthusiasts can keep a track on the solar storm on the NOAA’s official website which gets updated in every 30 minutes. Map present in NOAA website shows different places on the Earth from where aurora borealis can be seen on Wednesday. However, nights of Sept 6 and 7 will have full moon which will make it little difficult for the space enthusiasts to see the mesmerising northern lights and enjoy the show as lights coming from the moon will diminish the effect of celestial extravangza.

While explaining the process of lighting in the space, researchers said that the collision of fast moving solar particles with the Earth’s magnetic field accelerates particles trapped in the space around Earth (such as in the radiation belts). Later, these particles are sent crashing down into Earth’s upper atmosphere—at altitudes of 100 to 400 kilometres (60 to 250 miles)—where they excite oxygen and nitrogen molecules. Gases present in the atmosphere give up their energy by releasing photons. Different gases emit different colours; oxygen emits green and sometimes red light, while nitrogen is more orange or red.

The fainter arc of light that parallels the horizon is known as airglow. This is another manifestation of the interaction of the Earth’s atmosphere with radiation from the sun.

These stunning solar wind events resulting in colourful lighting can happen any time of the year. Scientists just wait for the right moment to capture them in the camera and later release those incredible shots to mesmerise the space enthusiasts.

The map released by NOAA shows the coordinates of the northern lights where it form. Lighter shades of oceans and continents represent the sunlit side of the Earth. The day-night line, or terminator, is shown as a region that goes from light to dark. The lighter edge is where the sun is just on the horizon. The darker edge is where the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon. According to NOAA, people can see the Aurora borealis in the night sky about 1000 km equatorward.

Phenomenons like aurora borealis are pretty common when seen from space. Previously, US astronaut Scott Kelly had clicked and posted breathtaking pictures of the Northern lights on the microblogging website — Twitter. With the help of ISS’s satellite, he was able to access the internet and tweeted the astonishing pics.

The Aurora Borealis is caused by geomagnetic storms initiated by strong solar winds. Apart from strong solar winds, ‘coronal hole’ near the equator of the sun also played a vital role in making the Aurora Borealis visible from the Earth. Astronomers say that ‘coronal hole’ was perfectly aligned with the Earth which made the event breathtaking.

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