Time-lapse is one of the hottest trends in photography nowadays, thanks in part to the wider availability of high-end cameras, high-resolution video and high production values. But you need some high-class talent behind the lens as well.
It doesn't hurt that the past year has been a gold mine for the glories of the night sky, especially the northern lights. We've featured quite a few time-lapse videos of the aurora, as seen from Earth and from space, and you can click through a few of our favorites below. The latest stunner to surface comes from Pacific Northwest photographer Brad Goldpaint, whose work we featured just a few days ago.
Goldpaint's three-minute time-lapse, titled "Within Two Worlds," features three years' worth of sky imagery collected from a variety of locales — including Tumalo Falls, the Three Sisters Wilderness, Crater Lake and Sparks Lake in Oregon, as well as the High Sierra, Mono Lake and Mount Shasta in California.
"I discovered my passion for photography shortly after my mother’s passing while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail three years ago," Goldpaint writes. "This time-lapse video is my visual representation of how the night sky and landscapes co-exist within a world of contradictions. I hope this connection between heaven and earth inspires you to discover and create your own opportunities, to reach your rightful place within two worlds."
The solar storm that swept past Earth over the weekend didn't disrupt any power grids, but it did turn on the auroral lights for skywatchers over a wide swath of North America, extending at least as far down as Arkansas.
SpaceWeather.com cataloged stunning photos from the usual places in northern climes, including Canadian provinces as well as the northern tier of the United States. But this particular solar storm — sparked by last Thursday's big coronal mass ejection, or CME — didn't stop there. Photographers sent in pictures from Arkansas as well as Ohio, Nebraska, Utah, California and other locales well south of the usual places. There were auroral images as well from Scotland, Hungary, and yes, from New Zealand, Tasmania and the South Pole at the other end of the world.
Observers knew they were in for something big, due to the fact that the flare associated with the solar eruption reached an extreme level of X1.4 on the classification scale for solar outbursts. The radio blast from a sunspot region known as AR 1520 resulted in a strong radio blackout for some high-frequency communication systems, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center.
The sun is heading toward the high point of its 11-year activity cycle, with the maximum expected next year. That means this weekend's storm could just be a foretaste of what's ahead for aurora-watchers and space weather forecasters over the coming months. In the meantime, check out this gallery featuring the latest pictures from the world's greatest light show:
Photographer Brad Goldpaint snapped multiple frames of the northern lights on July 15. "I had an incredible experience last night capturing the aurora borealis over Sparks Lake in Central Oregon," he said in an email sent on Sunday. For more of his work, check out the Goldpaint Photography website.
Photographer Brian Emfinger captured this time-lapse video view of the auroral display over Ozark, Ark., on July 15. "There was a very faint red glow off and on most of the night, but around 2 a.m. CDT it began increasing. Around 3 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. there were pretty good outbursts," Emfinger told SpaceWeather.com. For more from Emfinger, check out RealClearWx.com.
The subtle glow of the aurora competes with the glare of a signal light at the Ojibway Bay Marina, as captured over the weekend by photographer Robert Snache of Rama First Nation in Ontario. For more of Snache's pictures, check out Spirithands Photography's Facebook page.
Randy Halverson / Dakotalapse
Rare pinks and blues glow in the skies over Kennebec, S.D., in a picture of the northern lights captured by Randy Halverson on July 15. "It was bright to the eye at the time this was taken," Halverson told SpaceWeather.com. "Clouds made it difficult to get good pictures, though." More of Halverson's imagery can be seen on the Dakotalapse website.
Robert Snache, a photographer living in the Rama First Nation in Ontario, captured this view of the northern lights on the night of July 8-9. For more about Snache and his work, check out Spirithands Photography on Facebook.
A crack in the magnetic field sounds like the start of a sci-fi movie, but it's actually an opportunity for a beautiful auroral light show — as seen in these pictures.
SpaceWeather.com's Tony Phillips says the interplanetary magnetic field near Earth experienced a fluctuation last night and tipped south, opening a crack for electrically charged particles to interact with atoms and ions in the upper atmosphere. "Solar wind poured in and ignited the lights," he wrote.
The result was a five-star performance, staged for skywatchers in northern latitudes. "I had gone out to search for noctilucent clouds, but instead I found a super-clear night with northern lights," photographer Robert Snache of Ontario's Rama First Nation wrote.
Snache told me that he's the guy in the foreground of the picture, which was "shot with a 10-second timer." For more of Snache's work, check out Spirithands Photography on the Web, Facebook or Flickr.
South of the U.S.-Canada border, Shawn Stockman-Malone of Lake Superior Photo also got a great view of the northern lights from Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We've featured Stockman-Malone's time-lapse videos before, but this one is different in at least two respects. First, the pace of the video is slower, which is "more realistic to what you might see with the aurora" in real time, he said. And if you click the video to full-screen resolution, you'll notice a dark shape flitting through the start of the scene. That's a great blue heron, Stockman-Malone said.
"Scared the heck when I saw it flying around just barely over the lake," he told me an email. "All I saw was a big black blob, thought maybe it was a goose. I didn't see it on the shore until I put the lapse together. I must have spooked it when I went walking around looking for other photo angles."
The auroral show could light up northern skies once again tonight: Space weather forecasters say that a strong wave of solar particles, blasted out from a sunspot region on Friday, could deal a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field overnight. "NOAA forecasters estimate a 25 percent to 30 percent chance of polar geomagnetic storms if and when the cloud arrives," SpaceWeather.com reports.
A double-burst of solar particles sparked auroral lights over the weekend, as expected — but at least in some parts of the world, the colors were not what you'd expect. Instead of the typical greenish glow, observers reported seeing reds, pinks, violets and even blues.
"It's been many years since I saw the blue in our auroras, but Saturday night they came back," John Welling reported in a note accompanying the photo he posted to SpaceWeather.com.
Pinks, reds and blues also dominated the scene captured on camera early Sunday by Brad Goldpaint, from a vantage point above Oregon's Crater Lake. In an email, Goldpaint told me the opportunity came about "by pure coincidence."
"Capturing this famous light show had been a dream of mine for several years, but I could not have imagined the lights showing up in my own backyard!" Goldpaint wrote. "After setting up near the Rim Village Visitor Center lookout area, I began to notice a faint band of moving light slowly making its way from behind the Watchman Tower, around 1:30 a.m. My camera began picking up bright pink bursts of light towards the north, with what also looked like unfamiliar vertical bands of light stretching upwards from the horizon. I quickly changed my camera’s white balance to confirm I was not picking up some random light pollution, or hallucinating in my drowsy state. Following additional exposures, I came up with the same amazing results. The magical shifting scene continued until sunrise, and like most days in the wilderness, I was awed and humbled by true nature personified."
The colors of the aurora depend on the wavelength of the light emitted when fast-moving, electrically charged particles from the sun interact with different types of atoms and ions in Earth's upper atmosphere. If the particles hit mostly oxygen atoms, the light will be in the greenish-yellowish-reddish range. Collisions with nitrogen atoms produce the blue, purple and deep red hues.
The altitude of the auroral glow also affects the color: At altitudes between 60 and 120 miles (100 and 200 kilometers), the oxygen emissions tend toward the green side of the spectrum. At higher altitudes, you'll see more red. Blend all those colors, and you get a beautiful, wide-ranging palette.
The "Causes of Color" website provides a fuller spectrum of information. And speaking of a fuller spectrum, here are more of the weekend's colors, plus a bonus video:
Pink and purple rays highlight this picture of the aurora as seen from South Dakota's Black Hills by Randy Halverson. Technical details: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 24-70, f/2.8 ISO 3200, 20-second exposure. For more of Halverson's images, click on over to Dakotalapse.com.
Stephen Voss snapped pictures of the southern lights from a spot near Invercargill in the south of New Zealand. "A dull arc hung around for a couple of hours before suddenly exploding with a mixture of rays and curtains," Voss told SpaceWeather.com. Check out Voss' gallery at Deep South Astrophotography.
Scott Lowther snapped this panoramic picture of Saturday night's auroral display as seen from Tremonton, Utah. The shot was taken with a Nikon D5000 and a 55mm lens at f/1.4 with 6-second exposures. For more of Lowther's photos, check out the Art by Earthlings website.
Shawn Malone / LakeSuperiorPhoto.com
Shawn Malone snapped this picture before dawn on Sunday morning from Marquette, Mich. "Got to witness the tail end of aurora activity as the skies cleared about 15-20 minutes before the sunrise light moved in," Malone told SpaceWeather.com. "Photos taken between 3:50 a.m. and 4:15 a.m. Bright aurora, with rays of light overhead, almost forming a corona. Beautiful purples came through on the exposures, but only light visible to the eye, as is typical with auroras right before sunrise." Check out LakeSuperiorPhoto.com for more of Malone's work.
Here's a 13-minute recap of three winters' worth of auroral imagery from Sweden. It's all part of "Light Over Lapland: The Aurora Borealis Experience" from Chad Blakley of LightsOverLapland.com on Vimeo. For best results, go full screen and HD. "The movie is a compilation of many thousands of still images captured in Abisko National Park," Blakley writes. "By my calculation I have spent no less than 2,000 hours pointing my camera at the sky recording the northern lights to create this film. ... I am enjoying the midnight sun and all of its warmth, but I am ready for the darkness and the auroras to return."
The greenish glow over Lake Superior, recorded from Michigan's Upper Peninsula at 2 o'clock in the morning by Shawn Malone of LakeSuperiorPhoto.com, was impressive enough to make NBC's "Nightly News" on Tuesday night. In an email, Malone told me that the "intensity caught me off guard."
"Check out the passing freighter for scale," Malone said in his comments on the Vimeo version of the video. "What a view those sailors must have had!"
Mark Riutta had a similar view from Copper Harbor Cabins on the Upper Peninsula, as the time-lapse video below illustrates. Riutta told me over the phone that he and his girlfriend were getting the cabins ready for the summer season and were surprised by how bright Tuesday's display turned out to be. "We were just about to go to sleep, when we looked out and wondered, 'Why is it so light out there?' he said.
A GoPro HD Hero2 camera captured this view of the northern lights, set against a backdrop of the curving Earth and the glow of sunlight at the horizon. A second Hero2 camera was placed in the frame and illuminated to serve as a reference point for the camera exposure (as well as a plug for GoPro).
Project Aether, led by University of Houston physicist Ben Longmier, sent up almost two dozen weather balloons laden with high-definition cameras and scientific instruments to monitor auroral activity near Fairbanks. Most of the payloads have been recovered, but the student researchers are still on the lookout for a few that haven't yet been located. If you happen to be in the Fairbanks area and find one of them, you could win a prize.
More prizes could be in store for aurora-watchers: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center reports that we're currently in the midst of a minor geomagnetic storm, which could spark another wave of northern lights. What's more, an active region of the sun known as AR1465 has developed the type of magnetic field that's associated with stronger X-class outbursts.
These composite images show Uranian auroras as bright spots on the planet's disk on Nov 16, 2011 (left), and on Nov. 29 (right). The images from the Hubble Space Telescope have been processed to bring out details in Uranus' faint ring system.
Thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have caught a rare display of auroras on Uranus, which ranks among the solar system's oddest planets.
Unlike the beautiful, rippling curtains of greenish light we've been seeing in earthly skies over the past few months, the Uranian auroras are short-lived bright spots sitting on top of the ice giant's bluish cloud tops. But they're caused by a similar mechanism, involving the interaction of electrically charged particles with atoms and ions in the planet's upper atmosphere.
NASA's Voyager 2 probe picked up the first evidence of Uranus' auroras in 1986. "Since then, we've had no opportunities to get new observations of this very unusual magnetosphere," Laurent Lamy, an astronomer at the Observatoire de Paris, said today in a news release. There have been a fewhints of auroral observations, but Hubble's views from last November rank as the best views yet. Lamy and his colleagues provide the details in a paper published by Geophysical Research Letters.
The team took advantage of a lucky break and a favorable planetary alignment: Last year, Earth, Jupiter and Uranus were lined up so that energetic solar emissions could flow past each planet in turn. When the sun produced several outbursts in September, the astronomers timed the flow of the particle storm past Earth a couple of days later, and then detected the flow past Jupiter two weeks after that. On the basis of those readings, they calculated that the outburst would reach Uranus in mid-November, and scrambled to schedule observing time on the Hubble Space Telescope.
Uranus is an oddity because it basically rotates on its side as it orbits the sun. The orientation of its magnetosphere is tilted 60 degrees with respect to its rotational axis. As a result, during the current season, each of the planet's magnetic poles turns to face the sun in the course of a Uranian day. "This configuration is unique in the solar system," Lamy said.
Hubble was well-placed to catch the auroral flashes on the sunlit side, near Uranus' north magnetic pole. Each flash appeared to last only a couple of minutes, the astronomers said.
Lights on Earth And then there's Earth. Last October, a solar outburst sparked northern lights that could be seen as far south as the state of Mississippi, and over the past month, higher-latitude residents have been treated to almost as many fireworks displays as Disneyland tourists typically get to see. Although the approach of summer is starting to cut down on the opportunities to see auroras in the Northern Hemisphere, some folks got great views as recently as last night. Here are a few of the highlights:
Shawn Malone of Marquette, Mich., snapped pictures of the aurora from the shores of Lake Superior. "The sky was ablaze in light," Malone told SpaceWeather.com. "Northern lights were so bright they lit up the beach!" For more from Malone, check out LakeSuperiorPhoto.com and his Vimeo video gallery.
This video showing the southern lights was taken by the crew of the International Space Station on March 10, during a pass from the Indian Ocean, southwest of Australia, to southern New Zealand. The video was released this week.
Here's a different angle on the aurora and the International Space Station, captured by Brian Larmay of Beecher, Wis. The long streak in this time-lapse photograph is the space station, sailing across the sky. To see more of Larmay's pictures, check out his SmugMug gallery.
'Where in the Cosmos' Today's picture of auroral displays on Uranus served as this week's "Where in the Cosmos" picture puzzle on the Cosmic Log Facebook page. It took only a couple of minutes for Shirley Beningo to blurt out which celestial body was shown in the picture, and what the bright spots were. To reward her for her quick cosmic vision, I'm sending her a pair of cardboard 3-D glasses, wrapped up in a 3-D picture of yours truly. Ashley Nicole and Gerry Marien came in as the runners-up, and are eligible for 3-D glasses as well. Be sure to click the "like" button on the Cosmic Log Facebook page so you're ready for next Friday's "Where in the Cosmos" contest.
In addition to Lamy, the authors of "Earth-Based Detection of Uranus' Aurorae" include R. Prange, K.C. Hansen, J.T. Clarke, P. Zarka, B. Cecconi, J. Aboudarham, N. Andre, G. Branduardi-Raymont, R. Gladstone, M. Barthelemy, N. Achilleos, P. Guio, M.K. Dougherty, H. Melin, S.W.H. Cowley, T.S. Stallard, J.D. Nichols and G. Ballester.
A stunning aurora season is finally coming to an end in the far north, thanks to the longer days and the shorter nights. But there were still a few opportunities this week for the northern lights to ripple across the sky in a "last dance," as this picture from Norwegian photographer Thorbjørn Riise Haagensen shows.
"Beginning in the middle of May, the midnight sun brings sunshine all night long," Haagensen told SpaceWeather.com today. "Already some daylight is visible at the horizon at midnight. There is still enough darkness, though, for the last dance of the auroras."
Haagensen's photograph shows the aurora's glow in northern Norway; click on over to his Haagensenfoto.no website for more of his pictures, including an aurora gallery. Speaking of galleries, SpaceWeather.com offers some thrilling pictures from Minnesota and northern Quebec as well as Norway.
Here's a time-lapse movie of the northern lights' last dance that was captured by Jan R. Olsen, a photographer who lives in Olderdalen, Norway. "Not many days left with the aurora," he wrote. "This was shot on the night of April 2nd. Soon it will be too light in the night to see the aurora."
Even though the northern lights may be on the wane, the southern lights should be hitting their prime — and the people in the best position to see the show in the south are the astronauts on the International Space Station. Keep an eye on the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth for shots of the aurora australis from space.
The aurora's glow makes for thrilling photographs, but let's face it: The shimmer of the northern lights is a big part of the appeal. Here are three time-lapse video views looking at the northern lights from above and below, plus still-photo highlights from the past day or two.
The International Space Station's view of the green and red aurora was recorded back on Jan. 22, but the clip is part of a batch of seven night-flight videos released on Thursday via the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth. The shots were snapped as the station soared from the Pacific Ocean, west of San Francisco, northeast across the United States toward Saskatchewan in Canada. The camera is looking northward, and to my mind, the presence of the station's solar panels and robotic arm in the foreground is a plus, not a minus. For a sharper version, go directly to the high-resolution QuickTime video.
The aurora most commonly takes on a greenish hue, but when electrically charged particles from the sun interact with atomic oxygen at higher altitudes — say, up to 200 miles — the glow turns red.
The past week has been a godsend for aurora-watchers, thanks to a series of outbursts from an active region on the sun, but now the solar storms have settled down. Observers caught the tail end of the heightened activity on Thursday night in regions of Scandinavia, Iceland, Scotland, Greenland and North America, as well as Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica in the south. Check SpaceWeather.com as well as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center for updates. And check out this album of videos and photos from all over:
Icelandic photographer Olafur Haraldsson posted this fantastic aurora collection from March 15 on Vimeo. Haraldsson says the clip still needs some tinkering "and some nice music to go with it," but I think it's fine just the way it is, particularly at full screen in HD.
Iceland's Iurie Belegurschi offers this stunning picture of the aurora with the Venus-Jupiter conjunction shining in the sky, off to the right. For more of Belegurschi's photography, check out his Facebook page.
Andrei Penescu captured this view of the northern lights on March 15 from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. "Tonight was very special because it was the first time I've seen the sky full of red auroras. ... It was the best aurora show I've ever seen!" Penescu told SpaceWeather.com. Check out the gallery at SpaceWeather.com.
A red and purple auroral display lights up the skies over Queensland, New Zealand, in this March 16 view from Minoru Yoneto. "The auroras danced until sunrise," Yoneto told SpaceWeather.com. Check out the imagery on SpaceWeather.com.
A particularly angry region of the sun has been throwing some strong solar storms toward us over the past week, but there's just one more blast to weather. This picture, from astrophotographer Alan Friedman, shows active region 1429 as it rolls toward the edge of the sun's disk.
Friedman specializes in solar photography that keys in on hydrogen-alpha wavelengths, a part of the spectrum that is particularly well-suited to show variations in the sun's seething surface. The sunspots are magnetically disturbed whorls of plasma that are prone to send out flares and eruptions of electrically charged particles.
Last week, AR1429 blasted out a series of coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, that sparked colorful auroral displays. They also sparked worries about the potential disruption to satellite communications, electrical grids and GPS navigation. Fortunately, the direction and magnetic orientation of the CMEs weren't as threatening as they could have been.
AR1429 got off a parting shot on Tuesday, in the form of a medium-size M7.9-class flare and eruption. By now, the sunspot region has migrated to near the edge of the sun's disk and is starting to fade. The CME is taking "a path not toward Earth," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center reported. As a result, the eruption is expected to produce "minor to moderate" geomagnetic storms — which shouldn't pose a huge threat to power grids or electronics.
When the wave of charged particles sweeps over Earth's magnetic field, the extra geomagnetic activity should give a boost to the aurora. That could happen as early as tonight. So it's a good idea to check in with the usual suspects, including the prediction center's Facebook page as well as SpaceWeather.com, the Ovation Auroral Forecast page and the University of Alaska's Aurora Forecast website.
Most of the fantastic auroral views we've been getting over the past month have been from the north side of the world — but the southern lights are getting their day in the sun as well, thanks largely to the International Space Station.
The northern lights are more widely seen primarily because the high northern latitudes are more populated than similar latitudes in the south: The southernmost cities in Australia and New Zealand are in the 40s, latitude-wise, while Argentina and Chile dip down into the mid-50s. In comparison, the prime aurora-viewing areas in the north are in the 60s and 70s.
The International Space Station flies as far as 51.6 north and south latitude on every orbit, and its astronauts have a far more commanding view of the polar regions than earthly skywatchers. So it's no surprise that they're regularly seeing the auroral glow during the current period of heightened solar activity. Right now, the station's crew is in the midst of a viewing campaign that's being coordinated with the Canadian Space Agency's AuroraMAX project. Some of the reddish glows reach all the way up to the space station's level, 240 miles above Earth.
This March 6 photo from the International Space Station highlights daybreak on the left side of the horizon, and the southern lights on the right side. The station was flying over the Indian Ocean at the time, or about 1,200 miles south of Australia. The view is toward the east. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft is connected to the Pirs docking compartment at center, and a Russian Progress cargo craft is docked at right.
The space station's astronauts aren't the only ones who are seeing the southern lights: Check out the pictures from New Zealand and Tasmania that are being posted to SpaceWeather.com. And stay tuned: Thanks to a series of solar outbursts over the weekend, heightened geomagnetic activity should continue through Tuesday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center. That means there could be still more neon lights in the sky. Check out NOAA's Ovation Auroral Forecast and the University's Aurora Forecast website to find out if you're in the potential aurora zone.
Update for 9:30 p.m. ET: Tonight's northern lights were not to be missed at Sweden's Abisko National Park. "Tonight was very special," photographer Chad Blakley of Lights Over Lapland wrote in an email. "We had incredible auroras and were able to watch them dance as Venus and Jupiter went down behind the mountains." Here's a must-see time-lapse video of the scene:
Update for 4:30 p.m. ET March 14: ... And looking back Down Under, here's a wonderful video clip from Ian Stewart in Tasmania, looking south over Bruny Island. "This aurora was short lived, and obscured for the most part by cloud," Stewart wrote. "The cloud cleared just as the sky started glowing an eerie soft red, and the aurora faded into the beams of the rising moon at the end." Still more solar particles are coming our way, so stay tuned for more great views from the north and south. Check SpaceWeather.com for the latest.
An aurora borealis swirls in the sky over the Yukon River village of Ruby, Alaska, a checkpoint of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on March 9.
Oscar Avellaneda-Cruz / Reuters
The aurora borealis is seen from Mile 7 on Beam Road above snow-covered tundras near Nome, Alaska, March 10. A solar storm that shook the Earth's magnetic field on Thursday spared satellite and power systems as it delivered a glancing blow, although it could still intensify until early Friday, U.S. space weather experts said.
Jonina Oskarsdottir captured this picture of the northern lights over Faskrudsfjordur, Iceland. "No words can describe the experience of the northern lights tonight," Oskarsdottir told SpaceWeather.com. She used a Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera to take the shot, with a Canon 14mm f/2.8L USM II lens set for ISO 1600 ... and a 1-second exposure.
Jonathan Icasas snapped this picture of the northern lights at Beaver Lake Park in Redmond, Wash., at about 12:50 a.m. March 9, and posted it via Instagram. Icasas used a Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II with a Canon 24-105L lens. Icasas recalls that his settings were roughly f/5.6 for one minute of exposure in bulb mode at ISO 500 ("I think"). For more of Icasas' work, check out JIcasasPhotography.com.
We're almost getting used to great views of the northern lights from places like Iceland (see above), Scandinavia and Russia — but last night's lights were visible from the top tier of the United States as well.
"Simply the most spectacular sighting ever, for me," a skywatcher from Pierz, Minn., wrote in a note to the Auroral Activity Observation Network. "While the color was only green, I witnessed curtains and rays, with much shifting. Most incredible were the pulsations, about two per second, that extended to zenith. ... Simply magical."
Other sightings have come in from Washington state, Montana, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Someone ever reported seeing a "very diffuse greenish glow" in the skies over Wyoming. "Would not have known that it was aurora if I wasn't paying attention to the current solar activity," the anonymous observer wrote.
Will tonight provide another southerly show? It's hard to predict, but the sunspot region that sent the big outburst our way, known as AR1429, appears to be growing and is sending out fresh blasts. Late Thursday, AR1429 shot out an M6.3-class flare, sending another coronal mass ejection toward Earth. That CME is expected to arrive early Sunday morning, "adding to the geomagnetic unrest already under way," SpaceWeather.com reported.
To figure out whether you have a chance of seeing the northern lights, keep an eye on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Ovation Auroral Forecast map as well as the University of Alaska's Aurora Forecast website. If you're in the aurora zone, you can maximize your chances by getting far away from city lights, finding a place with good northern exposure and keeping watch between "magnetic midnight" and dawn. Tonight will be tricky, because the glare from the just-past-full moon might interfere — but as these pictures illustrate, the view might well be worth the trouble.