Northern lights visible in Kansas Friday night

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A geomagnetic storm will be impacting the United States on Friday night.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a rare Severe Geomagnetic Storm Watch for the first time since 2005. The storm is caused by several strong solar flares that have been produced by a large sunspot cluster. This cluster is 16 times the diameter of the Earth. These solar flares send fast-moving electrons toward Earth that then collide with the nitrogen and oxygen in our atmosphere. The collision releases photos, or small bursts of energy, in the form of light.

Solar activity could impact GPS and communication. It will also cause the northern lights to be visible across portions of the United States, including Kansas.

Visibility will be better for areas north of Interstate 70, but the aurora could still be visible across southern Kansas Friday night into early Saturday morning. For best viewing, drive away from city lights and look toward the horizon.

Partly cloud skies can be expected across the state tonight, leading to optimal viewing potential for the Northern Lights. Sunset will be at 8:29 p.m., but it will not be completely dark until 10:12 p.m. Temperatures will be comfortable in the 40s and 50s by daybreak.

We have already received some amazing photos of the auroras and the peak is still anticipated overnight. The color of the aurora depends on which gas is being excited by the electrons entering our atmosphere. Oxygen gives off a greenish-yellow light or a red light. This is what can be seen overhead Friday night into early Saturday morning.

Viewers have been sending in photos and videos all night long! Click here to check them out!

–Meteorologist Lucy Doll

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