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  • Writer's pictureSam Orlando

Virginia Skies May Host the Northern Lights Phenomenon Tonight

Written by: Sam Orlando

STAUNTON, VIRGINIA - Virginia residents may be in for a celestial treat tonight as the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, are projected to be visible in several parts of the state. This rare event, which is a result of electrons colliding with the Earth’s atmosphere, is eagerly anticipated by skywatchers and nature enthusiasts alike.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Aurora Borealis will likely be visible in regions of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Northern Virginia. The NOAA's prediction is based on the OVATION model, which forecasts geomagnetic activity and auroral intensity. The model suggests that the aurora could be seen from just after sunset to just before sunrise, with its visibility being dependent on several factors including weather conditions and light pollution.

Intriguingly, the aurora's brightness and location are typically displayed as a green oval centered on Earth’s magnetic pole, which turns red when the aurora is forecasted to be more intense. The Aurora Borealis is not visible during daylight hours and does not need to be directly overhead to be observed. It can be seen from as far as 1000 km away when conditions are optimal.

For Virginians hoping to catch a glimpse of this natural wonder, the visibility of the Northern Lights is highly dependent on clear skies and minimal light pollution. The state boasts several International Dark Sky Parks, which offer prime viewing conditions away from urban light interference. Among these are:

Staunton River State Park in Scottsburg,

James River State Park in Gladstone,

Natural Bridge State Park in Natural Bridge, and

Sky Meadows State Park in Delaplane.

As residents prepare for this potential display, it's important to remember that auroral activity is unpredictable and can vary in intensity. Those venturing out to watch the skies are advised to dress warmly and choose locations with unobstructed views of the northern horizon.

This event presents a unique opportunity for Virginians to witness one of nature's most stunning displays. Whether or not the Northern Lights will make a prominent appearance tonight remains to be seen, but the possibility alone has created a buzz of excitement across the state. If you do venture out and capture photos of the aurora, please send them to!

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