Northern Lights Michigan Forecast - July 13-14 2023

Will the Northern Lights Be Visible in Michigan Tonight?

Did you see the northern lights last night?!? What a show! Our Facebook fans generously shared their photos with us…

AND, we’ve heard there’s a chance for more tonight! So keep reading to find out if you might catch a glimpse of the northern lights tonight in Michigan!

When predictions of visible northern lights in Michigan fly around the internet, people (like us) get super excited for a possible glimpse of this atmospheric phenomenon.

Does the latest aurora borealis forecast answer the question, “Can I see the northern lights in Michigan tonight?” with a yes? Keep reading to find out…

St. Ignace, Michigan - Northern Lights
Northern Lights seen in St. Ignace | photo via @wanderingpelican

Can I See the Northern Lights in Michigan Tonight?

The U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) is the best place to find an updated northern lights forecast as they have both a 3-day forecast and show geomagnetic activity in the last 30 minutes for current northern lights possibilities.

Geomagnetic activity is measured using the planetary K index (Kp) with a range of 0-9, with 0 being the least activity. The higher the Kp, the greater the activity of the northern lights, and the greater the range of visibility.

The SPWC states that for a 0-2 Kp, the aurora will be “far north, quite dim in intensity, and not very active.” The Northern Lights will spread out farther from the North Pole and become brighter with “more auroral activity” once the Kp reaches the 3-5 range.

For the northern lights to be visible across most of Michigan, the Kp will need to be in the 6-7 range.

“At this geomagnetic activity level, it might be possible to see the aurora from the northern edge of the United States.”

SWPC, Tips on Viewing the Aurora

Tonight’s northern lights forecast is determined using the Kp forecast, often affected by G1 Storm watches in effect.

Lake Huron, Michigan - Northern Lights
Lake Huron | photo via @chase_gagnon

What Causes the Northern Lights?

The northern lights (aka aurora borealis) are a naturally occurring phenomenon caused by collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere and charged particles released from the sun.

The magnetic field of the Earth is breached by a solar flare, which are energetic particles emitted by the sun. Oxygen atoms or nitrogen molecules are sideswiped by electrons in the magnetic field of the Earth.

When particles (typically electrons) collide with atoms, the collision may cause the electrons to return to a lower energy state, which releases photons or other light particles known as aurorae. The differences in color are caused by the different types of gas particles that are colliding.

Will We See the Northern Lights This Week?

The honest answer? Maybe. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for high Kp and clear skies while keeping our eyes on the skies.

Need more information on how to see the northern lights in Michigan? Check out our full guide:

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