Auroras around the world could be super-charged tonight thanks to a severe solar storm impacting Earth, but even if bad weather hinders your view of the northern lights, you can still catch them live in a webcast online.
The online Slooh Community Observatory will broadcast live views of the aurora borealis from Iceland tonight (March 17), and it should be a good show. A massive geomagnetic storm is currently impacting Earth, and while there have been no reports of power outages or other issues related to the solar tempest, people have witnessed amazing auroras caused by the storm. You can watch the aurora show directly through Slooh or live on Space.com starting at 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT).
"This Tuesday [today] we will have a ringside seat on Slooh to explore the shimmering spectacle of the Northern Lights," Slooh's Will Gater said in a statement. "With Paul Cox speaking to us live from Iceland, we hope to capture some of the magic and emotion of watching this enthralling natural phenomenon. It promises to be a show you won’t want to miss!"
The geomagnetic storm was caused by two eruptions from the sun that joined together while flying toward Earth. The storm is warping the planet's magnetic field, possibly creating brilliant aurora displays through the middle of the United States and in northern Europe. Skywatchers in Washington State and other parts of the north United States already reported seeing striking auroras before sunrise.
If you want to try to spot the auroras live tonight, be sure to get far from city lights and hunker down under clear skies.
"We have heard of some very vivid sightings of aurora before the sun rose today," Brent Gordon, the Space Weather Prediction Center's space weather services branch chief, said during a news teleconference today. "Aurora sightings were mainly confined to the northern tier of the United States — Minnesota, Wisconsin, both North and South Dakota as well as Washington State … and of course Alaska as well."
Editor's Note: If you have an amazing photo of the aurora or any other night sky view that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.