Astronomy researcher explains why Northern Lights may be visible across Canada early this week
Dr. Rupinder Brar on the science behind the Aurora Borealis phenomenon
April 3, 2017
Canadians may have a chance to see the world’s premier natural lights show—and a University of Ontario Institute of Technology astronomy expert has the answers as to why.
A March 29 tweet from The Weather Network encouraged viewers to get outdoors and into a dark spot for a chance to see the Aurora Borealis. The colourful light display is expected to be visible, under the right conditions, into early this week.
“In general the Sun produces an ongoing stream of charged particles in the form of ‘solar wind’,” explains Dr. Rupinder Brar, Senior Lecturer, Physics and Astronomy in the university’s Faculty of Science. “Some of these particles are hurled toward Earth at high speeds where they will encounter and are influenced by Earth’s magnetic field. The charged particles interact with the atmosphere to produce the lights.”
Right now, the solar wind is energetic and dense, which will cause an especially bright light show that may be visible as far south as Durham Region.
If you are going to try and get a glimpse of the light show, Dr. Brar suggests finding an especially dark location, far away from suburban lights—places like large parks or rural areas.
However, he notes that the forecasted cloud cover may make it difficult to view the lights in local areas.