DES MOINES, Iowa — If you look into the sky tonight and see a little extra color, there’s no need to be alarmed. The world isn’t coming to an end and no, aliens aren’t visiting.
Break out your science text books, what you’ll see starts with a storm on the sun that leads to energy particles being released towards the earth.
“These particles will interact with the particles in our upper atmosphere causing a light show. This is the aurora,” said Herb Schwartz, an Adjunct Professor of Astronomy at Drake University.
Schwartz says usually these solar flare-ups don’t mean anything to Iowans, but with high amounts of aurora activity expected tonight, the famous northern lights could be visible as far south as central Missouri.
A photographer in Arizona snapped a more realistic shot of what the sky could look like tonight in Iowa.
“It will look like a red fog. You might see some detail, kind of like a red curtain rippling in the sky,” said Schwartz.
Of course, like the blood moon a couple of months ago, the northern lights will only be visible if the clouds clear up and you’re in the right spot.
“We cannot have clouds, something that seems impossible in central Iowa. Second, you’ll need to be away from city lights. It would be best if you had a dark sky,” Schwartz told Channel 13 News.
If a solar flare is strong enough, it can affect the power grid, satellites, and communication but experts say that is unlikely with this solar event.
Schwartz says there is no specific time you’ll see the northern lights but would likely see them best after 10:00 p.m., as the tilt of the Earth moves further from the sun.