A clear night tonight may mean a clear view of Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights. As usual, the farther north you go, the better your chances.

A series of solar flares off the surface of the sun earlier this week will increase the chances of the Northern Lights being visible across Michigan skies.

With Friday night forecast to be clear, many Aurora forecasters are predicting that the best chances will be tonight, Friday, February 16.

Light pollution near big cities like Grand Rapids diminish viewing, so the farther you can get away from the city, the better your chances. they also increase the farther north you travel.

Seeker.com says the flares started hitting the earth yesterday (Thursday) and will continue through the weekend,and there's an added bonus. The flares may play havoc with the power grid!

The solar particles are expected to hit as early as Thursday, February 15, but could arrive the following day. Auroras will shine in the sky as the charged particles hit gas molecules high in the atmosphere, causing molecules to glow. There's also a small chance that the storm will disrupt satellites or power grids.

"Aurora may be visible at high latitudes," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration wrote in a statement. This could include the "northern tier" of the United States, with affected states including northern Michigan and Maine.

Seeker's Elizabeth Howell explains how the flares are created:

Solar flares and particle ejections are associated with sunspots — dark areas on the sun's surface — that host intense magnetic activity. As the magnetic fields in a sunspot cross, NASA stated, this can cause a sudden energy explosion, also known as a solar flare. This sends radiation out into space.

Sometimes these explosions can also send off charged particles, which are called coronal mass ejections or CMEs. "CMEs are huge bubbles of radiation and particles from the sun," NASA stated. "They explode into space at very high speed when the sun's magnetic field lines suddenly organize."

All that means possible views like this one from near Chassel in the Upper Peninsula.

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