Northern Lights: Forget Fireworks, New Year's Solar Eruption Might Be Visible in Bay Area

Federal scientists say there is a chance the Aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, will be visible in parts of California including the Bay Area on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Researchers with The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have issued a geomagnetic storm warning at level 3. They say an asymmetric, partial halo coronal mass ejection (CME) occurred on Dec. 28 and that the "big burst of gas and magnetic field," as the Washington Post elegantly calls it, is bound for Earth.

The Northern Lights will be on display Dec. 30 and Dec. 31 in Canada, Alaska and a big chunk of the northern United States, including much of Northern California, according to the Aurora Notify website.

In the Bay Area, skies should be clear, giving stargazers who stay up late a shot at seeing the Aurora borealis: The time to look is early Thursday morning between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m., scientists say. Overnight lows in the Bay Area range from the high 20s to the low 40s.

To try and watch, find a viewing area without too much light pollution and have patience because your eyes will have to adjust as they scan the skies for a faint green streak, which hints at the beauty of the show those up in, say, Nome, Alaska, might get to see.

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