Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) Watch Tonight

***11:00 PM UPDATE***
Most reports are the moon is becoming too bright for viewing of the aurora. Here are a few more photos from between 8:30 PM and 11:00PM tonight.
Rangeley Lakes Region
Bailey Island Maine
Milo Maine


***9:45PM UPDATE***
Here are a few photos taken (most likely with a long exposure) within the last hour.  Aurora is happening now.
Mount Washington Observatory
Caribou National Weather Service
Burlington  Vermont

Keep and eye to the northern sky tonight and several nights to come for what could be a great display of colors thanks to recent sun activity.  Tonight is our highest chance in almost a year to view the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.


When: Tonight (Friday night) will provide the best chances for viewing. The combination of CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) arrival and exceptional weather conidtions will make for ideal viewing. Viewing is expected to be poor on Saturday night due to clouds and showers in the area.
Where:  Look north anytime after sunset and before daybreak.  All of Northern New England has an opportunity to see the aurora tonight (Friday night).  Timing is very unpredictable and duration may last for as little as fifteen minutes to an hour.
What to Expect:  If the aurora is active, pillars of green and sometimes red will shoot vertically from the northern horizon.

The folks at the Geophysical Institute tell us a  solar event (CME) Coronal Mass Ejection on Tuesday facing toward Earth reached Earth yesterday.  Another larger event occurred Wednesday that has a higher velocity.  The effects from the latter event reached the Earth today. Disturbances should be large and last long enough to result in increased auroral activity anytime for three or four days. The result is that aurora watchers should keep an eye to the sky in the coming nights for at least the next 4 to 6 days.

From NWS Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC). The second of the expected coronal mass ejections (CMEs) has arrived, and arrived in good agreement with the predicted arrival times.  As expected, an initial looks shows this CME is stronger than the first.  G2 (Moderate) storming is underway now and the forecast for G3 (Strong) storming on the 13thstill looks reasonable.  The solar radiation storm that is in progress as a result of the eruption on September 10th peaked briefly, as it often does with the passage of the shock, but is currently below the S2 threshold and in decline.

  • A great resource for info on current aurora activity can be found here.
  • For the latest Aurora forecast from the Geophysical Institute, click here.
  • For the latest Aurora forecast from NWS SWPC click here.

Aurora can be viewed at any time during the night and are very unpredictable in their arrival and duration.  The last time I saw the northern lights was in my back yard walking my dog last October.  It was not predicted well, and colors of green and red dancing on the northern horizon lasted for only about fifteen minutes. Here’s a photo from that night taken by the CBS 13 Chief Engineer Craig Clark.

Here are a few photos from that night in early October from the summit of Mount Washington.
Aurora_MWO1 MWO_Aurora2

Probably the best place to view northern lights around here is high atop the tallest peak in New England at the Mount Washington Observatory.  I had several opportunities to do that when I worked their as a weather observer many years ago. Their weather observations in METAR code are a great source to check if the Aurora is visible. If any of the observers are viewing it, it will be coded in the remarks section (RMK) at the top of the page. Observatory’s weather page can be found here.

If you get any photos (the best are with a long exposure) I’d love to see them. You can email them to me at  Or post them on facebook or twitter here.
Facebook: @CharlieWGME

Charlie Lopresti

About Charlie Lopresti

Charlie makes up the "Weather Part" of CBS News 13s evening edition. A native New Englander, he grew up enjoying the area's exciting and sometimes wild weather.