Look up into the skies Sunday night and you might just get to see the aurora borealis, otherwise known as the Northern Lights. Scientists at the NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center say that aurora lights, which are usually only seen in the extreme north and south of the globe, should be visible over much of Canada and the northern United States late Sunday and early Monday, USA Today reports. That includes northern New York state, much of New England, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas.
The Weather Network, which has a map showing viewing areas, reports that the event was caused by a solar flare that exploded on the sun Thursday night. That flare released a cloud of solar particles, a process known as a coronal mass ejection. When those particles reach the Earth's atmosphere, they interact with atmospheric gases, creating the famed colors of the aurora. At the same time the flare was releasing that cloud of particles, it also emitted X-rays that caused a small radio blackout in Asia. At about 10am Eastern Standard Time Sunday, the National Weather Service announced on Twitter that "Geomagnetic storm conditions" had begun. According to its latest forecast, the best viewing will come between sunset and 2am, "clouds permitting." (Read more aurora borealis stories.)