Northern lights possible in Michigan tonight

Posted at 7:28 AM, Sep 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-11 07:29:03-04

From my experience, it's usually pretty difficult to see the Northern Lights in West Michigan.  We have a lot going against us, in terms of how far south we are and our light pollution.

"Aurora at Point Betsie" by Brad Reed  Frankfort, MI July 2017

Often we'll get photos like this one (above) from Brad Reed in 2017 from Frankfort, Mich.  This is obviously a great example of what we could see, but the reality is that it's a lot easier to see the Northern Lights the further north you go because of the less light pollution and the stronger signals of the geomagnetic storms the cause the Northern Lights.

Above is a snapshot from the Space Weather Prediction Center.  (Yes, that is a real thing.)  This is an experimental model that identifies the charged particles from the sun and their impact on the earth's magnetic field.  Generally, the view line (in red) is much further north, and it doesn't come close to West Michigan.  But notice the view line here: it's closer to the Michigan-Indiana state line!

This time frame is from 11 p.m. Tuesday into early morning Wednesday.

Does this mean we are going to see the northern lights tonight?  No.  This is not something that's set in stone, but the possibility exists for a faint view of the aurora.

Share photos with us if you're able to see it.  For more tips on aurora viewing, check out this website.