Solar storm could produce highly visible northern lights in Manitoba

An unusually large solar storm could produce northern light shows that may be visible across most of Canada on Friday and Saturday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been keeping an eye on a series of solar flares that have been coming from the sun since Wednesday.

“The sun has an 11-year solar cycle, where it sort of gets more and more complex magnetically, and we’re at the peak of that right now,” said Danielle Pahud, director of the Lockhart Planetarium at the University of Manitoba.

As a result of this peak, solar flares and coronal mass ejections have been released from the sun, and are heading towards Earth’s magnetic bubble – the magnetosphere.

“These storms are impacting the bubble,” Pahud said. “So the aurora (borealis), the northern lights, are a byproduct of the impact between the coronal mass ejections and the magnetic bubble.”

Pahud said the best place to see the northern lights is out of the city with a dark sky. She says there’s a better chance of spotting them Friday than Saturday due to cloud cover in the forecast.

“We’re looking at having quite a show tonight,” she said.

Pahud said the solar flares could have an impact on GPS and telecommunications, with many organizations on alert and ready for any disruption.

– With files from CTV’s Maralee Caruso

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