Michigan is the place to be on Monday if you want to see the spectacular display of the Northern Lights. The Space Weather Prediction Center expects a G1 geomagnetic storm arriving on July 23. That means the Aurora Borealis may be visible at high altitudes in the U.S., including Michigan.
The best chance to see them is from sunset to 1am on the night of July 23rd.
The bright dancing lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres.
They are known as “Aurora borealis” in the north and “Aurora Australis” in the south. The beautiful displays appear in many colors although pale green and pink are the most common. Shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet have also been reported.
The lights can appear in many forms as well, from scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an magnificent glow.
Shawn Malone, a Marquette-based visual artist, has shared his secrets for viewing the Northern Lights in Michigan. He writes that Michigan has a lot of things going for it when it comes to northern lights viewing, the most important being 1). latitude, and 2). relatively low light pollution in many areas.
Malone writes: “If you’ve never seen the northern lights and want to maximize your opportunity to do so, learn and pay attention to sunspot activity, as that’s what drives the northern lights.
Get away from the light domes of the cities and head north on I-75 and get to a dark sky location in Upper Michigan. If you make it as far as the bridge, check out Headlands International Dark Sky Park, two miles west of Mackinaw City. This is a newly designated international dark sky park, one of the few dark sky parks in the country.
Once you’re in the Upper Peninsula, anywhere along the south shore of Lake Superior is optimal: Brimley, Whitefish Point, Pictured Rocks, Autrain, Marquette, Big Bay, Skanee, Eagle River, Eagle Harbor, Copper Harbor are just a few of the places that come to mind. Let your eyes adjust to the night sky, set up a lawn chair and a blanket, and enjoy one of nature’s most spectacular wondrous light shows, the northern lights! It is an experience you won’t soon forget.”