I have a question for you. Did you get a chance to look at the Northern Lights when they happened here in Washington state in the month of May? I did not because I was unconscious at the time. (I get up very early.) 

Aurora Borealis, Northern Lights, above boreal forest

The display was spectacular and was caused by the largest geomagnetic storm (G5 in strength) in the last several decades basically started by a large cluster of sunspots. So, here's the deal. We might get to see that display again, but we won't know for a while yet. It takes approximately 27 days for the sun to rotate, so we have to wait for it to spin around before we can see if that sunspot cluster is still there. 

Even if that sunspot cluster is still there, there is no guarantee that it's going to be strong enough to generate another large geomagnetic storm. 

The Aurora Borealis, Or Northern Lights, Visible From Large Swath Of North America
Getty Images

According to cronline.com, Erica Grow Cei, a spokesperson for the National Weather Service said, "It is not common for sunspot groups to survive a full 27-day rotation and still be a decent sunspot group upon return, This active region has already proven to still be a flare producer with its recent R3 level flare on May 27th, before that section of the sun rotated back into Earth-view."  

So how likely is it that we're going to see another amazing display of Northern Lights. It's all up to sunspots, solar flares and geomagnetic storms. even if we have sunspots and solar flares there's no guarantee that we will see the northern lights in Washington state. According to cronline.com,
“The prediction only mentioned the possibility of an aurora being visible between New York and Idaho, though, so Washington is likely out of luck. According to the SWPC's aurora viewing guide, a storm needs to reach G3 levels in order to be visible in most of Washington” 

The Aurora Borealis, Or Northern Lights, Visible From Large Swath Of North America
Getty Images

I hope it happens, and if it does happen, I hope you find a great place to watch it from. 

Will sunspot that brought May auroras bring northern lights back to Washington state? | The Daily Chronicle (chronline.com)
Aurora | NOAA / NWS Space Weather Prediction Center
During an Extreme Solar Event (weather.gov)

If You Missed the Northern Lights in Idaho You Have to See These

Check out these pictures from right here in the Magic Valley taken by residents and visitors who came to see the show.

Gallery Credit: Credit N8

Montana Northern Lights Pictures


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