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Another good aurora forecast for Monday

Aurora lights up the fall sky from Hatcher Pass.
Aurora lights up the fall sky from Hatcher Pass.(Broken Hart Photography)
Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 4:31 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The geophysical institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks is forecasting a “high+” aurora for Monday night. According to their website, this means “highly active auroral displays will be visible overhead from Utqiaġvik to as far south as Kodiak and King Salmon.”

Of course, viewing the aurora is weather dependent. Unfortunately, Southcentral, including Anchorage and the Valleys, are expecting clouds and rain. Parts of the western Interior and west coast should have enough clear skies to see the northern lights.

If you take photos of the aurora, we’d love to see them. Click here to upload them at Alaskasnewssource.com

But if the weather doesn’t cooperate, more chances are likely this winter. Earlier this month, NASA announced that the solar minimum had occurred in December 2019. According to NASA’s statement, “Because our Sun is so variable, it can take months after the fact to declare this event.”

Reaching the minimum in December means a new solar cycle — Solar Cycle 25 — has begun. The solar cycle lasts about 11 years from peak to peak.

“Scientists use sunspots to track solar cycle progress,” according to NASA. “The dark blotches on the Sun are associated with solar activity, often as the origins for giant explosions – such as solar flares or coronal mass ejections – which can spew light, energy, and solar material into space.”

Some of that energy will hit Earth’s atmosphere and create the aurora. But just because the sunspots reached a low point, doesn’t mean they disappeared complexly.

“As we emerge from solar minimum and approach Cycle 25′s maximum, it is important to remember solar activity never stops; it changes form as the pendulum swings,” said Lika Guhathakurta, solar scientist at the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Passing out of the solar minimum, the activity on the sun is expected to increase until 2025 when it is forecast to reach its maximum. NASA predicts the next maximum will be on par with the previous one, which was a little below average.

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