Keep your eyes on the sky tonight because Upstate New York has a fantastic chance of seeing the rare but beautiful aurora borealis.

It's time to start getting into the habit of star gazing again. Following reports that 2024 was going to be the greatest year for New York to catch the Northern lights, the NOAA said it's time to start enjoying the show.

How Is Auroral Activity Tracked?

Northern Lights in Norway
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

The Northern Lights are triggered when magnetic solar winds from our sun slam into Earth’s magnetic field. That interaction causes the upper atmosphere's atoms to glow - and the strength of the impact determines the light's intensity.

Those winds are triggered by coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which are sudden bursts of plasma and magnetic material from the sun that impact the Earth's atmosphere.

The sun ejects these winds at a speed of nearly 2,000 miles per second - or roughly 7.2 million miles per hour. That's much faster than the speed of sound, which  is roughly 767 miles per hour.

The NOAA estimates the strength of geomagnetic storming activity on a scale of G1 to G5 - with G5 signifying "extreme" activity. They have currently set their forecast at G4, which means "severe." That watch is expected to stay in effect through Monday, March 25.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks also uses a geomagnetic index using Kp, which rates auroral activity between 0 and 9, with the higher numbers meaning better activity.  Kp helps further determine the likelihood of a light show in the night skies.

Along with the current G4 rating from NOAA, the Kp index is currently at 8.3 due to a blitz of strong solar flares that erupted from the sun and are making their way toward earth. This means the likelihood of glimmering nighttime skies is extremely high.

What Else Can Geomagnetic Storms Cause?

Earthquake Aftershocks Rattle North Sulawesi Province
Getty Images

While solar flares are capable of producing beautiful borealisis, they can also cause damage. These flares are strong enough to disrupt things like GPS and radio signals as well as compasses. They can also impact the power grid and pipelines.

Geomagnetic storms also have the capability of triggering earthquakes by agitating the magma beneath the ground's surface.

It is unknown at this time if this latest system will trigger an earthquake. The last one to hit New York was on Saturday, March 16, in the area of Rensselaer Falls. The quake was small, registering at 1.5 on the Richter Scale.

Northern Lights Expected Sunday, March 24

Northern Lights in Norway
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Based on the NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center, New York could see some flickers and flashes of auroral activity. The prediction for Sunday, March 24, has a big red band stretching across Canada and Upstate New York is included in what is called the "view line."

Central New York has less of a chance of catching a second show on Monday, March 25. Instead, the NOAA says Upstate areas like Watertown, Massena and Plattsburgh fall within the "view line."

But just because an area can be included in the view line doesn't mean everyone else is left out. For Sunday, the NOAA predicted an aurora "may be seen as low as Alabama and northern California."

While chances of CNY catching a borealis on Monday night are lower, they're not at 0.

Read More: 2024 Will Be the Greatest Year for Northern Lights in New York

Both are expected to be in action from 7pm and 7am ET .

This won't be the last time we have a chance to catch the Northern Lights. The NOAA is predicting a "blitz" of auroral activity through October 2024.

And remember, the best way to view the lights is away from city lights. Find yourself a nice, open space area that's away from light pollution and enjoy nature's beauty.

As always, you can catch the Canadian Space Agency's live feed of Yellowknife, an auroral hotspot.

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