(KTXL) — Parts of the United States could be in for a dazzling view of the northern lights Wednesday night into Thursday morning.
The light show, also called the aurora borealis, will likely be visible from states along the northern border, but may also be seen from further south, in states such as Pennsylvania, Oregon, Utah and Missouri.
To thank for the celestial spectacle are two solar eruptions from a single sunspot, which released charged particles toward the Earth on Monday. The first eruption was overtaken by the second, making this a cannibal coronal mass ejection.
The charged particles combined to form a more powerful geomagnetic storm.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center, once these particles meet Earth’s magnetic field Wednesday night, the result will be a G3 geomagnetic storm. G3 storms are categorized as strong and often result in mid-latitude auroras.
Geomagnetic storms, like hurricanes, are ranked on a 1-5 scale of severity with 5 being the strongest.
According to NOAA, geomagnetic activity will be highest from 5 p.m. Wednesday to 2 a.m. PDT Thursday. Clear, dark skies are best for viewing an aurora, the University of Alaska Fairbanks says.
G3 storms have the potential to require voltage corrections, create GPS issues and disrupt satellites.
In February, a geomagnetic storm knocked 40 SpaceX satellites out of orbit.
The storms are also a potential worry for airlines, which will have to monitor radiation levels and potentially reroute planes.