Canadians across the country can expect a gorgeous display of auroras to illuminate the skies this weekend.
Those who would like to catch the Northern Lights in action should head out to a dark location with clear skies this March 17 and 18 to optimize their chances. Meteorologist predict that it's going to be a good show, thanks to a solar wind event that will cause a minor disturbance to the Earth's geomagnetic field.
The sun will rapidly emit a stream of charged particles towards the Earth on March 14 and 15, which will set up the conditions for aurora activity this weekend. The results of this solar wind could involve minor impacts on satellite communications, power grid fluctuations and some bright auroras across Canada.
What will help intensify the brightness of the Northern Lights are phenomena called 'equinox cracks.' Regardless of the presence of a solar storm, there seems to be a pattern where geomagnetic activity caused by the Sun is stronger during the time of the equinoxes. As we are close to the March equinox, we can expect the auroras to be more active this month.
Scott Sutherland, a meteorologist for The Weather Network, offers some good advice for aurora chasers looking to experience the Northern Lights this weekend:
"Check your weather forecast, to ensure that you'll have reasonably clear skies. Be sure to get out from under any light pollution in your area, as any competing light sources in the sky will make it more difficult to see the auroras."
"Depending on where you are, that may simply involve a short drive outside the city, or in the case of the Windsor to Quebec City corridor, a more lengthy journey north to escape the abundant, overlapping light pollution domes from closely-spaced urban centres. Also, avoid any local sources of light too - street lights, headlights, and even your cellphone - as they'll spoil your night vision."
Canada is home to a number of dark sky reserves that offer the darkest, pollution-free skies for stargazing. Check this list to see which ones are nearest to you.