Northern lights tonight .. if you’re lucky, in much of Canada and northern US ..

Jan 9th, 2014 | By | Category: In Brief

Photo of northern lights in Norway earlier this month by Geir-Inge Buschmann.

People who live in the most hated city in Canada, as I do, will apparently not have all that good a chance of seeing them tonight.

But according to the QMI agency : “Weather permitting, the northern lights will be visible in Yellowknife, Calgary, Edmonton, all of Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, northern Ontario and as far south as the north part of North Dakota and Minnesota … People in Halifax will also have a chance to see the auroras if the conditions are right.”

Northern lights forecast: thin green line indicates southern extent of possible view.

According to an Associated Press report on the CBC website : “Northerners thawing out from a bitter freeze may get rewarded with shimmering northern lights the next couple of days … The University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute predicts much of Canada and the northern fringes of the US should be able to see the northern lights. Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, Seattle and Des Moines might see the shimmering colours low on the horizon.”

According to Deborah Byrd’s EarthSky website : “A powerful flare on the sun on January 7, 2014 has created conditions favorable to auroras. [As in “aurora borealis” the more technical name for the northern lights.] We might even get a display of the lights at lower latitudes than usual. When should you look? The morning of January 9 – or anytime during the night of January 9-10 — are good bets.”

This map reflects conditions due to cloud cover.

CTV’s Atlantic Canada regional news site offers this advice : “There’s no specific time…anytime after dark and until sunrise.  If you get the entire family involved, you can work in shifts.  And should there be anything up there, it would stretch across the northern sky. As far as the weather goes, conditions should be quite ideal, with mostly clear skies across the Maritimes … If  we’re not fortunate enough to see the northern lights this time around, here’s some good news….there will be more opportunities to see them. The Sun is approaching its most active part of the solar cycle, so for the next year or so we will see more sunspots, more coronal mass ejections, more solar flares and more chances to see nature’s stunning light show.  Experts tell us that the cycle is now…just getting interesting!”

In this photo by Brian Emfinger aurora borealis lights up the Ozark, Arkansas sky on Monday, October 24, 2011. Emfinger, a storm chaser, reports that this is only the second northern lights in a decade that he has seen this far south.

According to a map on, viewing conditions in most of Southern Ontario will be poor tonight, as a result of “cloud cover.” I will nonetheless be intermittently looking at the northern sky in my east Toronto waterfront neighbourhood (aka Ganatsekwyagon, in the old Seneca dialect), from about 7 PM until possibly as late as 2 AM. I will report back briefly in this space sometime Friday afternoon on what I do or do not see. The QMI/Toronto Sun site is currently running an online poll which asks : “Are you hoping to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights?” Like 88% of all respondents so far I voted “Yes, I’d love to see them.”

UPDATE JANUARY 10, 4 PM ET : I regret to report that I saw nothing of the northern lights in the northern sky near my residence in Ganatsekwyagon, ON last night or early this morning. The cloud cover was dense. My last survey was at about 2:15 this morning, in the midst of a light snowfall. I also walked north on an excursion about 10 this morning, and saw nothing but a grey sky. I found some solace in an article I read on the net a few hours ago : “ ‘Hand of God’ Spotted by NASA Space Telescope.” And I take some hope for the future from the report above, about how “Experts tell us that the cycle is now…just getting interesting!”

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