Northern Lights Could Dip Down & Be Visible Across Canada Because Of A 'Rare Reversed Sunspot'

The aurora borealis could be seen as far south as Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and some northern U.S. states!

​Northern lights in the sky above apartment buildings. Right: Northern lights over a neighbourhood.
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Northern lights in the sky above apartment buildings. Right: Northern lights over a neighbourhood.

It's expected that the northern lights will be visible across almost all of Canada because of a "rare reversed sunspot" that's causing geomagnetic storms.

That means the aurora borealis could dip south and be seen in cities including Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal over the next few days.

The Weather Network shared that a sunspot being called rare because of its reversed polarity has emitted a solar storm which is set to make the northern lights shine brighter and extend further south than usual.

Solar storms, which are also known as coronal mass ejections, are clouds of charged solar particles that can interact with Earth's magnetic field and cause geomagnetic storms.

With stronger geomagnetic storms, it's more likely for brighter displays of the northern lights to appear in the sky and stretch further south, The Weather Network said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center has released an aurora forecast for the next few days.

It's expected that a G3 geomagnetic storm — which is classified as "strong" — will occur on Thursday, May 11.

Both G2 and G1 geomagnetic storms — "moderate" to "minor," respectively — will happen on Friday, May 12.

Then, unsettled to active levels are expected Saturday, May 13 as the influences of the coronal mass ejection ease.

The Space Weather Prediction Center also shared that there is a high likelihood of the northern lights being visible across most of B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, northern Ontario and northern Quebec.

There is a lower likelihood in southern B.C., southern Ontario, southern Quebec and the Maritimes but that doesn't mean the aurora won't show up in the sky.

The view line, which is the southern extent of where the aurora borealis might be seen on the northern horizon, stretches south to include Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and even some northern U.S. states, according to the Space Weather Prediction Center.

The best time to see northern lights in Canada is from December to March because there are more hours of darkness at night but that doesn't mean the aurora doesn't dance in the sky during the rest of the year.

So, if you're going to try and spot the northern lights over the next few days, the Canadian Space Agency has aurora viewing tips that can help you.

You should start by choosing a location that's away from city lights so that even low-intensity auroras can still be seen.

Then, you should look up in all directions, not just to the north, because the northern lights could actually appear anywhere in the sky.

Also, you don't even need any special equipment like telescopes or binoculars to see the aurora.

According to the Canadian Space Agency, the northern lights usually start to be visible a few hours after sunset and get more intense around midnight.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Lisa Belmonte
Senior Creator
Lisa Belmonte is a Senior Creator for Narcity Media focused on jobs and careers and is based in Ontario.