Science

Alaska aurora watchers could catch a spectacular show this week

The aurora borealis is likely to be especially active and bright over the next few days.

Amy Stratman, who runs a series of social media accounts called Aurora Notify, recommended squeezing in a nap or having a cup of coffee in order stay up late. She also recommended waking up early as an alternative.

“For us Alaskans, absolutely worth it to stay up late,” said Stratman, who is based in North Pole.

After Wednesday, cloudy skies are expected to stick around Southcentral Alaska for a few days, possibly spoiling viewing plans for later in the week.

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The especially good aurora forecast is thanks to gusts of solar wind — known as coronal mass ejections — heading toward Earth, according to Don Hampton, research associate professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute.

The aurora’s various colors may be more visible over the next few days, including deep reds above the green arc. If it’s really active, pinks and reds might also be visible. Plus, given the time of year, there might a blue cast if the aurora is seen early at night.

“With (coronal mass ejections), we get such bright aurora, that some of the colors that our eyes don’t see well, are now bright enough for us to see by eye, and will show up as really bright in camera images,” Hampton said over email.

Morgan Krakow

Morgan Krakow is a general assignment reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She is a 2019 graduate of the University of Oregon and spent the summer of 2019 as a reporting intern on the general assignment desk of The Washington Post. Contact her at mkrakow@adn.com.

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