Northern lights look unlikely at this point for Indiana

For all you space weather geeks out there (yes, I’m a proud member!), we are waiting to see if the auroras are visible later this evening.  Here’s what’s going on currently.

A CME (coronal mass ejection) hit the Earth’s magnetic field around 6:45 PM EDT.  The initial hit from the solar storm does not cause the auroras to become visible but the waves after the storm.  So, we are basically on stand by to see if this storm was strong enough to form the northern lights here in Indiana.

We do have two things working toward us. 
#1: Skies are clear so the northern lights would be visible to the north
#2: The aurora oval currently includes all of Indiana, which is also good for viewing potential.

Now let’s talk about what needs to happen over the next few hours.  Our Kp value needs to increase to 7 or higher. I’ve included a map below to show the Kp value we need to get up to in order to see the northern lights.  Basically the stronger the Kp value, the stronger the magnetic storm.  The strongest storms tend to be visible farther south.

**UPDATE** At 10 PM, the Kp index went down to a 2.  It’s still too low to see any aurora activity here in Indiana.  The rating did NOT go up with the latest observation, it actually went down 1 so I wouldn’t bank on seeing the northern lights tonight.  The storm appears to have been too weak.

kp value

Upon the storms arrival, spaceweather.com described the storm as “weak”.  I have yet to find any definitive forecast on how high the Kp value will get tonight.

So if everything would come together (and yes… IF), here’s what you would need to do to see the northern lights.
#1. Look north
#2. Get outside of any major town or city. The city lights make it too hard to see
#3. Wait until after 9-10 PM and you may be waiting until after 1 AM.

What I’ll be doing this evening is monitoring this “Kp” value and putting updates in this post regarding strength and our feasibility of seeing the northern lights.

**I am not a space weather forecaster! I only dabble in the topic but find most of my information through spaceweather.com, NOAA and NASA**

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