The Northern Lights Could Soon Appear as Far South as North Carolina

A "hole" in the sun's atmosphere (who knew?) will make the aurora borealis particularly magnificent this week.

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The Northern Lights are slated to be especially dramatic this week thanks to a spew of charged particles pouring out of a hole in the sun's outer atmosphere. The aurora borealis will be most active early this week, with the spectacle potentially visible low on the horizon as far south as Oklahoma City, OK and Raleigh, NC. Farther north, more dramatic displays will be visible, weather permitting, with potential shows continuing throughout the week.

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A spot in the sun's , or outer atmosphere, has a much lower density of plasma than the surrounding area. This creates an area known as a "." Magnetic field lines are open in this gap, allowing solar wind particles to flow out into space.

That the week before, and when the excess of charged particles reaches Earth's magnetic field, it could create a geomagnetic storm strong enough to disrupt satellite communications and interfere with power grids. Major expulsions of solar plasma known as (CMEs) can hit the Earth multiple times a century. In 1989, . The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association even estimated .

Those same solar winds should make the aura borealis much more active than usual. You can check the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Geophysical Institute for the .

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