Rare northern lights show to be in skies after sun eruption

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Updated: 1/08 10:47 pm

LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. - The fast, energetic eruption that took place on the sun Tuesday will allow residents of the Capital Region to see northern lights, most likely Thursday night.

To view the northern lights the best, it is suggested to head to a rural area and simply look north.

Scientists say while this space occurrence isn't rare, all the elements coming together with this one in particular, will be rare.

"You will know it if you see it," said Allan Weatherwax, Dean of the College of Science at Siena.  "You won’t mistake for moonlight or clouds and you will say 'that’s pretty exciting.'"

Weatherwax said the most likely time to view the Northern Lights will be Midnight Thursday.

"It just so happens geometry was right with the sun and earth. The sun exploded and now all the stuff is headed towards earth," he said.

An explosion on the sun Tuesday released particles that will show themselves in the form of a clear view of the Northern Lights.

"If the weather is clear Thursday night,” explained Weatherwax “Just look towards the North and you will see a wispy green or red."

Most of the time, he says, the sun explosions are much smaller, trapping the particles at the poles. But this recent one was large enough to travel further down towards the equator.

"It can last all night," said Weatherwax.  "It will look like curtains and kind of look shimmering arcs overhead.  It can be many different things."

Weatherwax does say there is some radiation that comes along with this, mainly just impacting space.

"Our atmosphere shields us from most things. If we didn't have that, we would be in trouble. If we were on Mars, we would be in trouble."

On Earth, there might be a few disruptions to satellite radio or GPS. Aside from that, Weatherwax said it will cause nothing aside from a great opportunity for star gazers.

"I can't remember the last time this year that all things were in line, and I think the last time it was cloudy," he said.

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