Look Up! Stunning Northern Lights Visible From Michigan Labor Day Weekend

WWJ News
August 30, 2019 - 4:14 pm
Northern lights

(WWJ) Keep your eyes on the skies this Labor Day weekend, and you could be in for a spectacular show. 

Astronomer Mike Narlock, at the Cranbook Institute of Science, the Northern Lights will be visible from Mackinac City and most places in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Friday night through Monday night.

If weather conditions are just right, he said, some may even catch the show from downstate, including darker placed in metro Detroit. 

"They're stunning if you see them, especially if you've never seen one before, or if you're lucky enough to see one that's maybe reddish or even bluish, they're just dazzling to see," Narlock said. "And you can really see some interesting structure, and just the way that they move is really mesmerizing." 

The Northern Lights, he explained, appear when the sun's magnetic field is weakened, causing the release of solar wind at a faster rate of speed than normal. The light we see is the result of collisions between gaseous, electrically charged  particles in the Earth’s atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere.

"Depending on how energetic the storm is will determine basically the color, too," Narlock said. "Usually we see them as greenish, but they can be blue or red, depending on where in our atmosphere the energy is dumped off."

This natural phenomenon -- also known as Aurora borealis -- is not really that uncommon a sight in Michigan, he said, although often people miss them because they don't look up. 

When may Michiganders be able to see them next? Check the Space Weather Prediction Center's 'Aurora Forecast' here