Opportunity to see Northern Lights shifts into Thursday, decreasing visibility from the Midwest

Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 7:59 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 9, 2020 at 6:20 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Update 6pm: A disappointing development coming from the Space Weather Prediction Center this evening for those hoping get a glimpse of the Northern Lights tonight. The coronal mass ejection (CME), or burst of energetic gases and particles released from the sun in a solar flare, has been traveling slower than anticipated. While it will still impact the Earth, the CME arrival has slowed by about 12 hours, putting the most energetic period into Thursday afternoon. This greatly lessens or eliminated the potential for visible auroras in the Midwest. On the bright side, the Sun is beginning to enter the more active period of the 11 year solar cycle, which should lead to more opportunities to view the Northern Lights in the coming years.

Original: Skywatchers across Nebraska and Iowa may be treated to a rare glimpse of the Aurora Borealis Wednesday night as a result of a moderate strength solar storm clashes with Earth’s atmosphere.


The Space Weather Prediction Center detected a solar flare from the Sun on Monday, and the energy and gases from that flare are arriving tonight and will linger into Thursday night also. The strength of the solar storm is considered a G3 or a KP-7 which means the Auroras may be visible as far south as NE Nebraska to Des Moines, IA.


The best chance to see them will be between 9pm and 1am Wednesday night by looking towards the northern horizon. (Update: the greatest activity is now expected to occur Thursday afternoon, meaning clouds and daylight likely block the view for most of the Midwest). For the Omaha Metro area, we can’t say it’s impossible, but the better chances will be to the north. If you can get away from the lights of the city you may have a slightly better chance of seeing them.

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