When the sun has energy eruptions, as it did earlier this week, the northern lights may be more visible to the northern third of the U.S. Usually, aurora borealis chasers have to go as far as Alaska to catch a glimpse of the dancing, colorful waves of light.
New Yorkers may miss out on the rare, celestial light show that’s expected Friday or Saturday evening. Predicting the location of a northern lights sighting is difficult on any given night, even in places like Norway where conditions are optimal.
But Bart Fried, executive vice president of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York City, said there are ways of bettering the chances of witnessing such a rare and spectacular event.
“It is rare for aurora [borealis] to be visible in New York City,” Fried said. “In this case, it may be possible.”
First, look North, Fried suggested. If it’s visible, the phenomenon will be seen towards the Northern horizon. Right now, there is a new moon, which makes conditions for seeing the aurora borealis more favorable.
All the bright city lights are a hindrance for sky gazing, and the weather for Friday evening isn’t completely favorable either. Fried said a good, clear night with low humidity offers the best conditions. He recommended looking between 10 p.m. and midnight, when there is a short window expected for clear skies tonight. People with access to the necessary transportation could also try to camp at the various state parks in the New York and New Jersey region.
“The predictions I’m seeing show the distribution of aurora potential dipping into the NYC Aaea of the globe, '' said Jackie Faherty, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History. ”Chances are always low to spot the northern lights in our area because of light pollution, but that shouldn’t stop anyone from trying!”