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Northern Lights set to reach peak intensity in next 18 months, a first in 2 decades

Skywatchers around the world are excited to see this stunning natural phenomenon at its peak brilliance.

Northern Lights set to reach peak intensity in next 18 months, a first in 2 decades
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Visit Greenland

If you have always wanted to see the stunning Northern Lights, perhaps now is the time to start planning your epic adventure. The beautiful display of dancing lights in the sky, often in shades of green, pink and purple, is usually best seen during winter in popular viewing locations like Norway, Finland, Sweden, Iceland and Canada. Now, scientists are claiming the stunning natural phenomenon will be intense in the next 18 months.

It will be the strongest light activity of both the coming decade and the past 20 years, according to The Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel, a group of scientists that forecasts sunspot activity, sponsored by NOAA and NASA. Not only will the activity appear more frequently, but they could also be seen from more places.

Cover Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pixabay

"Skywatchers are excited," Mark Miesch told NBC News. Sunspot observations are a key predictor for the likelihood of seeing the northern lights and they have increased since the end of last year. Solar activity is expected to continue to grow until fall 2024 when the likelihood of viewing the northern lights is highest. "Sunspots are our window to the past to compare current activity to what it was centuries ago," Miesch added.

The northern lights also known as aurora borealis, are most visible near the North and South poles. It is where the Earth's magnetic field is weakest. "When there's a big disturbance in the magnetic field, then you're more likely to see aurora at lower latitudes," said Miesch. Some cities in the continental U.S., like Minnesota and Wisconsin, recently witnessed the phenomenon. 



 

According to NASA, auroras are a signal that Earth is electrically connected to the Sun. The light that we see in the sky is generated by energy from the Sun and fueled by electrically charged particles entangled in Earth's magnetic field.

To see the beautiful sight, one should get as far away from city lights as possible to maximize visibility. Places like Fairbanks, Alaska; Yellowknife, Canada; Svalbard, Norway; Abisko National Park, in Sweden; Rovaniemi, Finland; and pretty much anywhere in Iceland are ideal, reports Space.com. The best months would be between September and April when the sky gets dark enough. The best time to catch the aurora would be "within an hour or two of midnight (between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. local time)," according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Earlier this year, a pilot circled the plane around to allow passengers to catch the stunning view of the Northern Lights. During a flight from Reykjavik to Manchester, an EasyJet plane executed a 360-degree turn so that passengers could witness this awe-inspiring display of the Northern Lights. The pilot took the controlled detour west of the Faroe Islands, which lasted around 10 minutes and happened at approximately 8:30 p.m. while the Airbus A320 was traveling at 37,000ft (11,000m) and a speed of almost 500mph. 

Passengers could capture photos of the stunning celestial event during the detour. All the details were tracked by the flight monitoring website. After getting engaged in Iceland, a fortunate couple who were unable to observe the Northern Lights from the ground managed to capture an amazing photo of the spectacle through their plane window.



 

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