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WATCH: Aurora Ignites Across the Northern Skies

By By Michael Kuhne, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
March 19, 2015, 6:56:08 AM EDT

While embarking on a journey to the northern Atlantic Ocean’s Faroe Islands to view Friday’s upcoming total solar eclipse, an expedition team will be stopping in Iceland, the Land of Fire and Ice, to capture the ethereal beauty of the aurora borealis on film.

According to Slooh’s Observatory Manager Paul Cox, the viewing conditions look promising for St. Patrick’s Day, citing the year’s first powerful X-class solar flare that was unleashed and directed toward Earth on Wednesday, March 11.

The heightened solar activity has also sparked one of the strongest solar storms to impact Earth since 2013, according to the Associated Press.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a statement Tuesday warning about potential impacts of the geomagnetic storm, which is the result of two significant eruptions from the sun’s corona that occurred early on Sunday, March 15.

Watch a replay of tonight's event, which aired live at 6:00 p.m. EDT:

"A severe solar storm smacked Earth with a surprisingly big geomagnetic jolt Tuesday, potentially affecting power grids and GPS tracking while pushing the colorful northern lights farther south," federal forecasters told the Associated Press Tuesday.

Iceland is considered one of the best locations to catch a view of the incredible, shimmering aurorae, Slooh's team reports, citing the notoriously green lights of the region’s northern skies.

"With skies clear to partly cloudy across much of the Great Lakes region and the Northeast tonight, the aurora could be visible in parts of Wisconsin, Michigan, New York State and New England," AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek said. "It is not out of the question that some folks as far south as portions of Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey get a glimpse of this aurora." 


Occurring every day in the northern and southern auroral ovals around the poles, the faint glimmer of auroral glow, which is powered by the solar wind, is often shrouded by daylight and city lights, according to a NASA report.

Aurorae are more noticeable and enhanced when the sun fires out clouds of charged particles that collide with and excite more atoms and molecules of Earth's atmospheric gases, primarily oxygen and nitrogen.

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As the molecules return to their normal state, they release energy in the form of light.

The color emitted depends on which gas is being excited by the fast-moving electrons and the amount of energy being exchanged, according to NASA.

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