Shafts of green light dance across the sky. Fans of pink glow for hours. Vibrant pulsating white wands illuminate the night heavens. This is the aurora borealis, one the most amazing phenomena you can experience.
Scientifically, auroras are created as gases on the sun’s surface release protons and electrons into space. Disturbances ranging from mild eruptions to violent storms emit masses of these atomic particles, which are attracted to the north and south magnetic poles. Aurora forecasting is a bit of a gamble, bu they are known to arise when sunspot activity peaks. Click on the additional info below for my favorite forecaster, choose the map that includes northern MN and if the forecast is 4 or higher, your sightings odds are decent.
Remember, in November it starts getting dark in late afternoon, so you don’t need to stay up late to view the aurora.
Weather is great topic of discussion on the Shore. People ask if you have heard the forecast. But the forecast is often for right along the shore which can be an entirely different temp than inland, which is separated by the big lake by a ridge. After while you learn to just look out the window. My tip is to remember to look at night, too.
when you look, you begin to see the ever changing skies manifest some awesome celestial phenomena. One reliable feature is the Milky Way. Our entire solar system sits minutely amid this massive spiraling star formation. The Milky Way arches across the sky throughout the year but is brightest in the summer and is most easily seen on moonless nights away from obstructing lights. Use binoculars to focus in on the stunning mass of shimmering stars.
This annual meteor shower takes place from about April 17 -25, peaking on April 22nd-23rd. During peak, you can expect about 20 meteors an hour. Lyrids are caused by the dust from Comet Thatcher. and named after the constellation Lyra. Starting the evening of April 22nd, go outside, away from artificial light, and look northeast. Get comfy and enjoy. The comets will pass near Vega, which is the brightest star in this part of the sky that night.
Every year in August, Earth passes through a stream of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. The shower is beloved by sky watchers. It is rich in fireballs and plays out over a two-week period of warm, starry summer nights. The 2018 Perseids will peak on the night of August 12 and early morning hours of August 13. A new moon creates dark skies and excellent conditions to see the shooting stars. Peak watching should begin about midnight, when up to 48 meteors per hour could e seen.
Go outside between midnight and dawn and look to the eastern sky. Allow about 45 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark. Lie on your back and look straight up. Perseids can appear anywhere in the sky, but their tails will point back to a single point in the constellation Perseus.
December 13-14, 2018, mid-evening until dawn. Radiating from near the bright stars Castor and Pollux in the constellation Gemini the Twins, the Geminid meteor shower is one of the finest meteors showers visible in either the Northern or the Southern Hemisphere. In 2018, the rather wide waxing crescent moon staying out until mid-evening shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. The moon will set before the peak viewing hours of the Geminid shower, from late evening until dawn. The meteors are plentiful, rivaling the August Perseids. They are often bold, white and bright. On a dark night, you can often catch 50 or more meteors per hour. The greatest number of meteors fall in the wee hours after midnight, centered around 2 a.m. local time (the time on your clock no matter where you are on Earth), when the radiant point is highest in the sky.