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Solar physicist: Chances to see Northern Lights in Colorado slim

6:28 PM, Mar 8, 2012   |    comments
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The Northern Lights are caused when charged particles rush through the magnetic field of the Earth. Colliding particles create light much like a neon light bulb, according to scientists.

The solar flares were expected to force more charged particles through the process, enhancing the light and forcing it further south. However, the solar flares weakened late Thursday, diminishing the possibility the light would be seen further south.

Solar Physicist Craig DeForest said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts showed geomagnetic activity from the solar flares decreased to below storm levels late Thursday.

"I'm afraid there won't be much chance of Aurora tonight," DeForest said.

In addition to the weakening flares, DeForest says the full moon will also diminish the possible effects of the activity in the magnetic field of the Earth.

"If we do see any hint of the bright neon lights the best chance is around midnight in areas away from the city lights - West Boulder, Morrison, Monument or Denver International Airport offer the best chances around the metro area. Look north, one to two 'fists' above the horizon for a very faint red and green glow," DeForest said.

The Northern Lights will still put on a spectacular show for areas in the North and Colorado will have another chance to see them again soon.

"Stay tuned. We're coming into the maximum solar activity in its 11-year cycle and as a result, over the coming years, we expect more events like this to come," DeForest said.

DeForest says more solar activity is expected in the next two weeks but scientists cannot predict if the sun will produce more solar flares.

To read more about space weather and see the latest solar X-ray images head to NOAA's website: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/SWN/index.html.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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