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2014 begins with active aurora borealis forecast for Alaska

Laurel Andrews
The northern lights came out in North Pole for Valentine's day one day early. Feb 13, 2013
Courtesy Lara Poirrier / Northern Source Images
The northern lights came out in North Pole for Valentine's day one day early. Feb 13, 2013
Courtesy Lara Poirrier / Northern Source Images
The northern lights came out in North Pole for Valentine's day one day early. Feb 13, 2013
Courtesy Lara Poirrier / Northern Source Images
The northern lights came out in North Pole for Valentine's day one day early. Feb 13, 2013
Courtesy Lara Poirrier / Northern Source Images
Northern Lights dancing above the Knik River early morning April 25, 2012.
Courtesy Arlen Ayojiak
Northern Lights dancing above the Knik River early morning April 25, 2012.
Courtesy Arlen Ayojiak
Aurora timelapse over Valdez April 24, 2012
The Living Alaska Project photo
The Northern Lights near Cantwell on April 12, 2012.
Courtesy Todd List
The Northern Lights in Nikiski, AK on March 9, 2012.
Courtesy Leon Richard
The northern lights dancing over a home in Fairbanks, Alaska, during St. Patrick's Day weekend 2012.
Brandon Lovett photo
A stunning display of the northern lights from Fairbanks, Alaska. March is prime time for aurora viewing, especially during the two weeks around new moon.
Brandon Lovett photo
Traditionally, a good time for viewing and photographing aurora borealis activity is between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. But don't bank on it: during strong solar storms aurora can be seen at all hours once the sky darkens.
Brandon Lovett photo
Captured from Birch Hill Cemetery in Fairbanks, Alaska, this photo shows that sometimes, no trees or background are needed, the beauty of the northern lights can stand alone.
Brandon Lovett photo
March 20th marks the first day of the spring equinox during which northern lights viewing is at its peak.
Brandon Lovett photo
Photographers, it's time to get out your cameras! Prime time for norther lights viewing is during March around the spring equinox. The best time for photographing this wonder is between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. but with the increase in solar activity, you could catch a glimpse of them pretty much whenever it gets dark.
Brandon Lovett photo
If you need an excuse for a road trip, pack up the camera gear, bundle up the kids and head out beyond the city lights for a glimpse at these amazing displays in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Brandon Lovett photo
Shooting the northern lights requires some testing for the novice. It's time to start! If the preview shows up black, do not, repeat, DO NOT, delete. Your camera will capture more than meets the eye.
Brandon Lovett photo
At times aurora borealis activity comes in spurts. For all you photographers out there braving the cold, hoping to get some good pictures, don't head out or give up after the first show. Instead, consider heading back to your car and warming up.
Brandon Lovett photo
Brilliant green northern lights can be seen from Birch Hill Cemetery in Fairbanks, Alaska. Watching these lights dance across the sky is one of the few events Alaskans have to look forward to during the long, dark, cold months of winter.
Brandon Lovett photo
This photo was taken from Fairbanks, Alaska, a popular viewing place for Alaskans and visitors alike to sneak a peak at the lights. In fact, Fairbanks is such a popular location that some hotels offer wake up calls so you won't miss prime viewing time.
Brandon Lovett photo
Taken March 19th, 2012 at 1am in North Pole, Alaska. We had a North Pole Police officer pull over and check on what we were doing out in the middle of the street.
Lara Poirrier | Northern Source Images
The northern lights in March 2012 at milepost 201 on the Parks Highway.
Tracy Petersen photo
The northern lights in winter 2012.
Lucie Steiger photo
The northern lights in winter 2012.
Lucie Steiger photo
The northern lights in winter 2012.
Lucie Steiger photo
Aurora in Eagle River. March, 2012.
Photo courtesy Curtis Bingham
Northern lights over the Cordova harbor on March 6, 2012.
Photo courtesy Chelsea Haisman
Aurora in Eagle River. March, 2012.
Photo courtesy Curtis Bingham
Ursa Major Amongst Aurora. Hatcher Pass, AK March, 9 2012
Photo courtesy Rick Antonio
The northern lights were so beautiful in Anchorage around 3am.
Photo courtesy of Moira C. Choi
March 2012 aurora from Chena Hot Springs Road.
Photo courtesy Thomas Popple
The northern lights from Shishmaref on March 6, 2012.
Photo courtesy Ken Stenek
Northern lights during a March 2012 solar storm.
Photo courtesy Sandee Rice
The Anchorage light pollution and moon were no match for this brilliant show!
Photo courtesy Holly Weiss-Racine
Northern lights over Palmer on March 8, 2012.
Photo courtesy Thom Swavely
Northern Lights from Earthquake Park, March 6, 2012.
Photo courtesy Christy Hedrick
March 2012 northern lights.
Photo courtesy Colin Tyler Bogucki
The northern lights and full moon.
Photo courtesy Colin Tyler Bogucki
Northern lights near Cold Foot, Alaska.
Photo courtesy Mike Criss, akphotograph.com
Aurora near Cold Foot, Alaska.
Photo courtesy Mike Criss, akphotograph.com
The aurora over North Pole, Alaska.
Photo courtesy Lara Poirrier, Northern Source Images
A rocket launched from Poker Flats to study the northern lights heads skyward.
Photo courtesy Lara Poirrier, Northern Source Images
February aurora over North Pole, Alaska.
Photo courtesy Lara Poirrier, Northern Source Images
February aurora over North Pole, Alaska.
Photo courtesy Lara Poirrier, Northern Source Images
Northern Lights outside of Delta Junction on Feb. 18, 2012.
Photo courtesy Andrew Downing
Aurora outside of Delta Junction on February 18, 2012.
Photo courtesy Andrew Downing
Aurora borealis over Healy, Alaska on Feb. 18, 2012
Bob Lype photo
Northern lights dance over Cook Inlet at West Anchorage's Earthquake Park
Frank Keller photo
Northern Lights over Talkeetna Airport, 2-18-12
Photo courtesy Josh Martinez
Northern Lights over the Elliot Highway on January 22, 2012
Lara Poirrier | Northern Source Images
Aurora borealis in Goldstream Valley, Alaska, during January 2012 solar storm
Rebekah Cadigan photo
Northern lights over Anchorage
Ryan Soderlund photo
Aurora borealis dancing during the early hours of January 22, 2012. As seen from the Elliot Highway.
Lara Poirrier | Northern Source Images
Aurora borealis over Hatcher Pass, Alaska
Sam Amato photo
Northen lights over the North Slope
Ryan Soderlund photo
Northen lights over the North Slope 2
Ryan Soderlund photo
Aurora borealis over house.
Sam Amato photo
Northern lights over the North Slope
Ryan Soderlund photo
Northern lights over the North Slope
Ryan Soderlund photo
Northern lights dance over the mountains at Hatcher Pass, Alaska
Sam Amato photo
Northern lights over Hatcher Pass in the Mat-Su
Sam Amato photo
Northern lights over Bethel, Alaska on January 25, 2012
Joe "Jojo" Prince photo
Shot this back in October 2011 at Beluga Lake in Homer about 2am. Have not seen recent activitiy here (during January 2012 solar storms) due to cloud cover and snow.
Steve Young photo
Aurora borealis dances in Alaska during January 2012 solar storm
Rebekah Cadigan photo
Northern Lights over Talkeetna Airport, 2-18-12
Photo courtesy Josh Martinez
Taken up near Chatanika, north of Fairbanks, on Jan. 21, 2012
Sandra Osborne photo
Lara Poirrier | Northern Source Images
Shot with a 1981 Canon Ae-1 over a 10-minute exposure period at Denali National Park, Alaska on Jan. 17, 2012.
Finney Kimsey photo
Aurora viewed at Point Woronzof in West Anchorage, dancing over Fire Island in Cook Inlet.
Frank Keller photo
Northern lights dancing over Palmer, Alaska, on Jan. 24, 2012
Andrea Humphreys photo
Northern Lights over Talkeetna Airport, 2-18-12
Photo courtesy Josh Martinez
Northern Lights over Bethel on January 25, 2012.
Joe "Jojo" Prince photo
Northern lights dance over Bethel Alaska during the solar storm in January of 2012.
Joe "Jojo" Prince photo
Cherry red aurora borealis over the Elliot Highway during the early hours of January 22, 2012.
Lara Poirrier | Northern Source Images
A red hue to the aurora borealis over the Elliot Highway during the solar flare event of January 2012.
Lara Poirrier | Northern Source Images

What better way to start off the new year than with the aurora borealis dancing overhead? Forecasts show that the northern lights will likely be visible for much of the state on the first day of 2014, weather permitting, and will continue to grace the atmosphere for several days.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an active aurora starting around 3 p.m. Alaska time Wednesday, with aurora expected to be visible from the Arctic coast to the southern tip of Southeast Alaska. Auroral displays will likely remain active through Thursday night, according to NOAA forecasts, although it may be visible only as far south as the Kenai Peninsula.

The Aurora Forecast at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute forecasts moderate aurora activity for Wednesday, and an active aurora on both Thursday and Friday.

Spotting the byproduct of the sun's coronal mass ejections -- blobs of supercharged plasma that interact with the Earth's magnetosphere -- as they reach the home planet depends on weather conditions, and cloudy skies forecast across Alaska may obstruct viewing on New Year's day. The Northern coast of Alaska is forecast to be partly cloudy on Wednesday, while the Interior city of Fairbanks -- often heralded as one of the best aurora viewing locations in the world -- is expected to be mostly cloudy. The Kuskokwim Delta is forecast to be mostly cloudy with scattered snow showers. Anchorage and the greater Southcentral region also have a cloudy evening predicted. Juneau can likely expect rain and snow.

New Year's Day also brings the first new moon of the year, making for darker night skies and better viewing possibilities if the skies are clear.

To view the aurora, seek out a location away from light pollution. Traditionally, a good time for aurora viewing is between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., but during strong solar storms aurora can be seen at all hours after the sky darkens. Want to capture the moment? Check out more tips and tricks on how to photograph the northern lights.

In anticipation of tonight's possible show, check out Alaska Dispatch photographer Loren Holmes' stunning aurora timelapse video -- one of the top-viewed articles for Alaska Dispatch in 2013. Viewing in full-screen is recommended.

Do you have amazing aurora photos you’d like to share? Send them to info(at)alaskadispatch.com

Contact Laurel Andrews at laurel(at)alaskadispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter @Laurel_Andrews