Northern lights may be visible Thursday night in Ohio. Here's where to see them

Northern lights, or aurora borealis, may be visible Thursday night in parts of Ohio.
Northern lights, or aurora borealis, may be visible Thursday night in parts of Ohio.

It's not every day you get a chance to see northern lights in Ohio.

But if you're in northern Ohio on Thursday, you may be able to see the magical lights, also known as aurora borealis, due to disturbances in the sun.

Here's what to know.

How can I see the northern lights, aurora borealis, in Ohio?

Northern Ohioans in the Cleveland and Toledo areas may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the phenomena Thursday night, according to a forecast by the University of Alaska Geophysical Institute.

The lights are most visible between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Like most things in the night sky, you will see it best away from city lights. Geauga Observatory Park is a designated dark sky place in Montville. If the aurora is visible from there, the park's dark skies should improve chances of viewing. The park is open until 11 p.m. on Thursday.

What is a dark sky place? Here's where to find the best stargazing in Ohio

Why are there northern lights in Ohio?

If the aurora is visible, Ohioans will have a series of solar disturbances to thank. These disturbances are forecast to produce geomagnetic storms and have caused the Space Weather Prediction Center to issue a G3, or strong, geomagnetic storm watch. The center's scale ranges from G1 (minor) to G5 (extreme).

According to the center, strong geomagnetic storms can interfere with the electrical grid, degrade GPS signals, increase orbital drag on satellites and pose radiation risks to airline crews and astronauts, although that is not predicted Thursday evening.

What causes the northern lights?

The aurora borealis (northern lights) and aurora australis (southern lights) are caused by electrons colliding with the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere, according to NOAA.

Earth’s magnetic field guides the electrons so that the aurora forms two ovals approximately centered at the northern and southern magnetic poles. During major geomagnetic storms, these ovals may expand away from the poles, causing the aurora to be visible throughout most of the country.


This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Northern lights may be visible Thursday in Ohio. Here's where