Northern Lights may be visible this week in Wyoming, but not Colorado

The Space Weather Prediction Center has forecast strong geomagnetic storms following multiple solar eruptions that may produce the aurora borealis for northern regions of the world.

The so-called Northern Lights probably won’t be visible in Colorado, though.

A series of Corona Mass Ejections on the sun began on Sunday, and the resulting Geomagnetic Storm Watch from the prediction center predicted strong intensity (G3) on Thursday and moderate intensity (G2) on Friday. The intensity scale runs G1 (weakest) through G5 (strongest).

“We’re expecting a G3 level, and typically that does not result in an aurora visible this far south,” said Bill Murtgagh, a scientist who works in the Boulder office of the Space Weather Prediction Center.

G3 storms typically produce an aurora visible as far south as 50 degrees latitude, Murtagh said, which is just north of the U.S. Canada border.

“Not Colorado,” Murtagh said. “Sometimes — and it happened earlier this year — folks get up in the mountains with their cameras. If you keep that shutter open long enough, and you point north, you can get a little bit of the glow. The next thing you know, there’s a picture online saying, ‘Here’s the aurora, visible from Colorado.’ It’s true, it was visible from Colorado, if you sat out there with the right camera gear and set it up right.”

The Space Weather Prediction Center is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and it has two offices, one in Boulder, the other at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Neb.

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