INDIANAPOLIS – A rare chance to see the northern lights will present itself late Sunday night as a severe solar storm persists.
Aurora borealis viewing
Disturbances in Earth’s magnetic field are often caused by solar flares and are measured on the Planetary K-Index (Kp Index). The index uses a scale of 0-9, zero being minimal activity, and nine being an intense solar storm. For the aurora to appear anywhere in Indiana, the Kp Index must be around a 7. For the aurora to be visible through the entire state it must be around an 8.
At this current moment, a severe solar storm is ongoing, which translates to an 8 on the Kp Index. This level of activity is rare and means Hoosiers across the state will have a chance to see the northern lights tonight! That being said, you’ll still have a much better chance to see them in Northern Indiana than Southern.
If you want to see the aurora, you’ll want to look north after dark (sunset is around 8:30pm). Light pollution is a major detriment to any celestial viewing, so the farther removed you are from city lights, the greater your chances will be. Note that it’s impossible to guarantee that they’ll be out statewide, but the chance is nonetheless there for us!
Overnight cloud cover
In order for us to see the sky, we need clouds to be at a minimum, of course. This may be concerning, especially considering that Sunday afternoon has been overcast. The good news however, is that clouds will be thinning the later we get into the evening. While it may not be perfectly clear at any point, it may at least be partly to mostly clear by midnight across much of the state. Temps will be falling into the low 30s overnight though, so bring a jacket if you’re stepping outside to look!
The rest of your week…
Monday morning will be a chilly one, but it will be as cold as we get over the next 7 days, if not much longer. The week will feature a steady warming trend, but even our warmest day may not reach average. Despite the cooler weather, the sun will be out a slight majority of days before our next chance for rain comes next weekend.