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Better Chance to View the Northern Lights Next Thursday During Equinox

In the past couple of weeks, people have been send in multiple pictures of the northern lights over Alpena

Also known as aurora borealis, these lights are caused by a release of energy from earth’s upper atmosphere when the sun has some energetic storms, and the planet gets in the way. Last week, there was an extra powerful storm on the sun, and that’s why many people were able to check out the lights. “It can sort of overload our magnetic field a little bit causing some of those solar particles to swirl down the top and south bottom pole regions of planet earth where they interact with all of those chemicals, air and atmosphere in the upper atmosphere,” said Johnathan Winckowski, planetarium coordinator for the Besser Museum.

Next week there will be a better chance of catching a glimpse. Thursday will be the equinox, when day and night are 12 hours each. The earth’s equator and the sun’s will line up. “Because of this change in angles, those solar particles have a better chance of swirling around the tops of our planet and creating aurora,” Winckowski said. “Now this is just a better chance for it to happen for our end. There still needs to be those solar storms.”

To increase your chances of seeing the northern lights even more, you can check out one of the dark sky parks in northeast Michigan.