Have you ever seen the creeping, twisting, and sometimes pulsing green lights they call the aurora borealis?
Also known as the northern lights, if this celestial sight is on your bucket list be prepared to make a little effort this weekend and you may just get lucky.
A G1 or G2 geomagnetic storm is predicted by the NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center, and the forecast is for them to be seen across southern Canada for the Labour Day weekend.
When will it happen?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a “G2 Moderate Watch” for September 1. It is unusual for that particular storm strength, and therefore unusual for the northern lights to be seen so far south.
Where can I see the northern lights this weekend?
Though normally restricted to the North West Territories, Yukon and Nunavut, this weekend it may be possible to see the northern lights in southern Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. Remember to look to the skies in a northerly direction!
In the graphic below, anywhere in the green or white oval has a chance of seeing the northern lights. Green areas indicate the places where the geomagnetic storm will be strongest (you’ll see a brighter light show).
1.Vancouver, 2.Edmonton, 3.Calgary, 4.Regina, 5.Winnipeg, 6.Toronto, 7.Quebec City.
How to see the northern lights in Canada this weekend
Though they may be visible further south than usual, the best locations where the aurora borealis is more likely to be overhead will still be in the most northern parts of the provinces and most likely only in the very darkest locations.
Be sure to position yourself somewhere as far north as possible with a clear view to the north that isn’t obstructed by any kind of light pollution — and that includes streetlights as well as towns and cities.
Will I see the northern lights from Toronto and other big cities?
Never say never, but it is extremely unlikely. To see the northern lights, you need to be in an area that doesn’t have light pollution, which big cities like Toronto has.
Head north a couple of hours and you’ll give yourself a much better chance.
Urban myths or real?
Some Native American tribes believed that whistling at the lights would make them dance for you! Alternatively, Inuit belief claims that the lights are spirits of the dead and whistling at them will make them scoop you up and take them away- so whistle at your own risk.