DETROIT (WWJ) – If the weather cooperates, you may see a shimmering curtain of green high in the sky Wednesday night.
Cranbrook astronomer Mike Narlock says a storm on the sun a few days ago could produce a viewing of the Northern Lights after dark on Sept. 28.
“It’s very much like seeing the planets our or seeing the starts,” he told WWJ’s Sandra McNeill. “If it’s clear or clear-ish, you have a better chance. But because sometimes the Northern Lights look a little bit like clouds, when it’s cloudy out they could be happening over your head — you just don’t notice it because here in Michigan we’re used to seeing overcast or partially overcast skies.”
What causes this phenomenon?
“Billions of tons of charged particles get shot out of the sun, and when those charged particles hit our magnetic field, they’re attracted to both the north pole and the south pole,” Narlock explained. “And as they’re cascading down they lose their energy, and the energy shows up as light as our eyes to see.”
According to the Northern Lights Center, variations in color are due to the type of particles that are colliding.
“They’re kind of eerie, too,” Narlock added. “They sometimes just slowly appear over the horizon and creep to over top and they really do look like a big shimmering curtain of greenish light. It’s a marvel to behold.”
Narlock says the best chance for viewing in the metro Detroit area will be between and 11 p.m. and 1 a.m.; but if it’s raining, you may be out of luck. Check the latest weather report and live radar, here.