aurora borealis

Will You See Northern Lights in Chicago Friday Night? Here's What Experts Say

Some social media sites have posted that the Northern Lights will be visible as an April Fools' joke, but it appears possible in some parts of the U.S. Friday night

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Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, was spotted in the Midwest earlier this week, but can Chicagoans catch the sight Friday night?

According to experts at Chicago's Adler Planetarium, it's not likely.

"We can say that it's a lot less likely that we will see aurorae in our area tonight at all and that last night was probably the more likely night to have had a chance to see them somewhere in the northern-tier states," the planetarium said in an email Friday to NBC 5.

However, residents in upper Minnesota and Michigan, as well as in Alaska and Canada, could spot the breathtaking illumination Friday night, the planetarium said.

Earlier this week, a number of sunspots were releasing magnetic energy and fast-paced particles called coronal mass ejections, causing a geomagnetic storm across the northern U.S. and Canada, according to the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service issued a geomagnetic storm watch Wednesday through Friday, noting Aurora Borealis would most likely appear Wednesday night when the storm is at its peak.

"Impacts to technology from a G3 storm generally remain small, but it can drive the aurora further equatorward of its polar home. Aurora may be visible over the northern tier states if the conditions are favorable," the National Weather Service wrote on Wednesday.

According to the planetarium, no one in Illinois has been able to see the Northern Lights over the past two days due to clouds. The major reports of sightings were around Minnesota and North Dakota.

Astronomy experts at Adler noted that light pollution would make it difficult to see the Northern Lights, even if the weather conditions were considered ideal.

"Light pollution often affects our ability to see aurorae, so even if they are in our skies, it is difficult to see them due to our light pollution levels, which are pretty bad. Aurorae can be dim," the planetarium said.

"Another thing we contend with is that even if they are visible, they may be on the horizon, not overhead, which means buildings, trees, etc. can block our views," the planetarium continued.

There could be some hope on the horizon, though.

The sun is in a period of "higher solar activity" for the next few years, which, according to experts, increases the chance of seeing future aurorae in the area.

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