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Northern lights dazzle Friday night; could be better Saturday night

NOW: Northern lights dazzle Friday night; could be better Saturday night

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Northern lights seen in Crivitz, Wisconsin. Jason Brotski
All of the hype surrounding the chance at seeing the northern lights this weekend has already been warranted. The geomagnetic storm that was set to dazzle the Saturday night sky produced a breathtaking display of the lights Friday night -- a day early. 

View from Greenbush, Michigan. SY Taylor
The aurora was seen across the northern tier of the United States, including Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Numerous photos of the lights were snapped and posted on Facebook to document the phenomenon. That includes each of the pictures in this article.

The lights seen in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. Adam Haisman
Some of those who witnessed the lights say they saw pillars, multiple colors ranging from green to blue and purple, and movement of the lights! The show was, put simply, incredible. 

Potential extent of the northern lights Saturday evening/night.
It's certainly a sight worth seeing, and you could have a good chance once again Saturday evening and night. The geomagnetic storm is set to once again reach G2, or "moderate," levels by Saturday evening.

That strong of a storm could make the northern lights visible on the northern horizon as far south as Kansas City, St. Louis, Evansville, Louisville, and Philadelphia. 

Geomagnetic activity forecast Saturday evening and night.
Of course, that would safely put northern Indiana and southwest Michigan well within the zone of possibly seeing the lights. If conditions do in fact reach G2 levels, the probability of seeing the lights is pretty good north of I-90 across northern Iowa, Minnesota, northern Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

The lights seen in Crystal Lake, Michigan. Dianne Martin Knight
As of Saturday morning, the best chance at seeing the northern lights looks to be between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. EDT Saturday night. It's important to note that the predictability of the aurora is never perfect. Just be aware that at any time the conditions could flare. That's why aurora hunters suggest using apps to constantly check the status of the geomagnetic activity. A few can be found at the bottom of this article

Cloud cover forecast shows there will be many areas clear enough to see the lights if they come out.
There are two variables that must be taken into account when attempting to snap unforgettable photos of the northern lights: cloud coverage and the moon's phase. Fortunately, the moon will be a non-factor with it being in its "new" phase. That means there will be no moonlight to obstruct your view.

Cloud cover is a slightly different story, though. Across Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, there will be patches of cloud cover to worry about Saturday evening into Saturday night. The good news is there will likely be a healthy amount of breaks in the clouds at times. 

If you want the best chance at witnessing the lights tonight, be sure to check on the conditions constantly, monitor cloud cover, venture out into a dark place away from light pollution with a clear view to the north, and head as far north as you can. Good luck! 

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