Where you can see northern lights Sunday night from another solar storm (2024)

If you missed the recent auroras over the past two days, you may have another chance. The sun will continue to send more activity to Earth on Sunday night and early this week.

Fast eruptions from the sun are expected to slam into Earth on Sunday night and Monday morning, triggering another round of geomagnetic storms, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Sunday is predicted to offer the best chance for aurora-chasing before this round of solar activity diminishes.

After predicting geomagnetic storms of level G4 or G5 — the most intense rating — on Sunday morning, NOAA downgraded the forecast to G3, meaning less likelihood for a repeat of Friday night, when storms brought aurora sightings down to Florida and Mexico.

Activity is expected to wane by the pre-dawn hours of Monday, although storm levels are still predicted to reach moderate (G2) to strong (G3). Auroras could be spotted as far south as Iowa and Washington state with the naked eye, but cameras could capture the dancing lights farther south.


By Tuesday morning, NOAA forecasts that geomagnetic storm activity will diminish to minor levels (G1). During a minor storm, only higher latitudes such as northern Michigan or Maine typically see auroras.

Will there be clouds in my area?

In the Northeast, people may struggle to see the aurora through clouds on Sunday night, although some breaks are possible toward Monday morning. Unfortunately, clouds will blanket much of the area Monday night to Tuesday morning.

In the Mid-Atlantic, the skies will be mostly clear from Sunday night into Monday, providing promising views from West Virginia to South Carolina. Heavy cloud cover moves in over the region on Monday night into Tuesday morning.

The southern United States (from Georgia to western Texas) will be largely covered in clouds from late Sunday night to Tuesday morning.


The West Coast and northern Plains should have primarily clear skies from Sunday night to Tuesday morning.

If your region has a cloudy forecast over the next few days, don’t necessarily fret. Sometimes breaks emerge in the cloud canopy. And while clouds will make it harder to see the northern lights, sometimes they also make for interesting photos.

Will you be able to see the northern lights around D.C.?

It is unlikely that auroras will be visible Sunday night in the D.C. region, according to NOAA’s 7:15 p.m. update.

Washingtonians had a brief window during which to see auroras early Saturday morning. But there were too many clouds and the geomagnetic storm wasn’t quite strong enough for northern lights to be seen Saturday night into Sunday morning — although auroras were reported in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains at 10:30 p.m. and about 12:30 a.m., as well as in the mountains to the west.


You will improve your chances of seeing the aurora borealis significantly by finding an observing location away from city lights (this advice applies to any population center). Also, the lights — if they appear — may be rather faint and only visible through your camera lens, which is more sensitive to light than your eyes. Look to the north to try to find them.

Where has the aurora already been seen this weekend?

The geomagnetic activity over the past few days has been one for the books, producing once-in-a-lifetime or once-in-a-generation aurora displays.

The weekend began strong with an extreme (G5) storm on Friday into Saturday morning. One space weather physicist collected aurora observations on X from every state in the United States, and from much of the Northern Hemisphere — including rare places like Italy, Austria, London, Mexico and India. Auroras were even spotted in tropical locations, including Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the lights — known as the aurora australis — were photographed in Chile, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia.

Although activity decreased Saturday night, storm levels still briefly reached into strong (G3) to severe (G4) levels. At its peak, people were able to snap aurora pictures in the mountains of Virginia.

Were any satellite or power grid operations affected?

Intense geomagnetic storms can disrupt satellite, GPS and power grid operations. After Friday’s storm, NOAA received reports of issues on some power grids and high-frequency radio and GPS communications.


The last time a G5 storm hit was in 2003. That one also brought widespread auroras and some power interruptions in certain regions of the globe.

Why has there been so much auroral activity recently?

The slew of auroral activity stems from a particularly bustling area on the sun known as active region 3664. The region — measuring about 17 times the diameter of Earth — is marked with a cluster of dark splotches, known as sunspots. Sunspots are areas on the sun’s surface where its magnetic field is much higher than anywhere else on the sun. These magnetically complex regions are often the source of large, explosive bursts on the sun.

So cool. On Saturday morning, CWG reader David Abbou took this video of the giant sunspot facing Earth (which you can see with solar eclipse glasses) and which has been responsible for the solar storms and northern lights. As he was recording, an airplane photobombed the shot! pic.twitter.com/N52dCzwjn5

— Capital Weather Gang (@capitalweather) May 12, 2024

Last week, the sunspot group launched multiple eruptions from its surface — called coronal mass ejections — toward Earth. Coronal mass ejections are large clouds of solar energy and magnetized plasma that can temporarily disturb Earth’s magnetosphere, if aimed correctly. Some solar particles travel along Earth’s magnetic field into our upper atmosphere, exciting molecules and releasing photons of light, or the aurora.


Geomagnetic activity from this sunspot group will last until around Tuesday, then the sunspot group will rotate away from Earth’s view. If it rotates all the way around the sun and faces back to Earth in several weeks, it could send additional activity our way. However, most sunspot groups weaken on second appearance.

NOAA scientists continually monitor the sun and are tracking any potential activity from other sunspot groups.

Jason Samenow contributed to this report.

Where you can see northern lights Sunday night from another solar storm (2024)


What time of night should I look for Northern Lights? ›

November through to February offer the darkest skies and longer evenings for maximum sky-gazing. The strongest lights tend to appear between 9pm and 2am, though the best sightings often occur between 11pm and midnight.

When can I see the Northern Lights again? ›

The Northern Lights have recently caused dazzling displays across the U.S., and because solar activity has been busier than scientists expected, there may be more chances to see the lights this year leading up to peak activity in summer 2025.

When to see the Northern Lights in Alaska in 2024? ›

The best time to see the aurora borealis in Alaska is from August 21 to April 21.

Are the Northern Lights caused by solar storms? ›

Recently, the same powerful solar storm that created the bewildering Northern Lights seen across North America, affected farmers' equipment at the height of planting season. Machines and tools that rely on GPS, like tractors, glitched and struggled with navigational issues.

Which direction should I look to see northern lights? ›

Ideally, the lights will be best viewed away from any light pollution, in remote areas, facing the northern horizon - north facing coasts produce some of the best viewing locations. The northern lights are most active during the Equinox and Solstice in March/April and September/October.

Where can I see the northern lights in the US? ›

Where can I see the northern lights in the US? “The aurora may become visible over some northern and upper Midwest states from New York to Idaho,” the center's advisory for Tuesday said. Brasher said the sun's 11-year cycle is “approaching or at” solar maximum, the period of highest activity.

How far south can you see the Northern Lights? ›

To observers at far-northern latitudes, the Lights are a frequent occurrence, but many who live in more temperate climates have never seen them, even though they are occasionally seen as far south as 35 degrees North latitude.

How often can Northern Lights be seen? ›

During the height of Aurora Season, this magical display of dancing lights can be seen an average of four out of five nights when the sky is clear and dark enough! Aurora chasers are practically guaranteed a sighting with odds like these.

How many times a year do Northern Lights appear? ›

The northern lights occur year-round, nearly every single day of the year, but they're not always visible. You need to have the right viewing conditions to see them. The most important factor is darkness.

Where is the best place to see the northern lights in 2024? ›

The best places to see the Northern Lights in 2024 are scattered on the most extreme latitudes of our planet: Iceland, Canada, Alaska, Norway, Finland…

What year will the northern lights be the brightest? ›

There is currently a ramping-up of solar activity, and auroras are increasing in frequency, peaking in 2024/2025 with the Solar Maximum. A Solar maximum or solar max is a regular period of greatest Sun activity during the 11-year solar cycle.

How long will northern lights last? ›

The aurora often occur for a few glorious minutes at a time. A good display may last between 15 and 30 minutes, although if you're really lucky, it could extend to a couple of hours or longer.

When was the last solar storm? ›

The Strongest Solar Storm in 20 Years Did Little Damage, but Worse Space Weather Is Coming. Dazzling auroras—like this one over northwestern England—were the most noticeable effects of a powerful geomagnetic storm that struck Earth on May 10, 2024.

Why are the Northern Lights so bright lately? ›

They typically cluster near the Earth's poles, but if enough energetic solar particles charge up the sky, auroras can reach much closer to the equator, which is why we've been seeing them lately all over the globe. This year, the sun is at the peak of its activity cycle.

Do sun flares affect Northern Lights? ›

Jaw-dropping northern lights from massive solar flares amaze skywatchers around the world. 'We have a very rare event on our hands.' (photos) A rare G5 geomagnetic storm not seen since Halloween 2003 is supercharging the northern lights around the world.

When and where is the best time to see the northern lights? ›

Northern lights displays are likeliest in the northern third of Canada: The Northwest Territory often sits directly under the auroral oval, as does part of the Yukon Territory. The absolute best time of year for the clearest and darkest skies is from the third week of January to the end of March.

Do the northern lights go all night? ›

Fortunately, they occur frequently. "The northern lights are happening 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year," said photographer Chad Blakely, owner of the northern lights tour company Lights Over Lapland. But that doesn't mean they're easy to spot; you need to be at the right place at the right time.

How to take pictures of the northern lights with an iPhone? ›

Enable Night Mode:

Night Mode is your best friend when it comes to capturing the northern lights. This feature automatically adjusts your iPhone's camera settings for optimal low-light conditions, resulting in clearer and more detailed photos. To activate Night Mode, simply ensure it's enabled in your camera settings.


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