When will the northern lights be visible in the US again?

Seeing the aurora borealis dance overhead is a rare sight over the contiguous United States, but it has happened several times over the past two years, including a historic light show in early May.

There could be another chance to see the aurora through the start of June, but it is still too early to say if there will be a repeat of the recent aurora outburst.

The same sunspot responsible for the best showing of the northern lights since 2003 is once again facing the Earth, leaving many wondering if they will have another opportunity to see the celestial lights.

A sunspot is an area on the sun that can occasionally erupt. When conditions are right, eruptions can blast colossal clouds of charged particles into space. When these particles bombard the Earth, it can generate an aurora.

An image of the sun taken on May 31, 2024. A massive sunspot can be seen on the bottom left portion of the Earth-facing side of the sun. (NASA/ Solar Dynamics Observatory)

While scientists can easily track sunspots, it is difficult to predict if or when one will erupt until an eruption actually occurs. Because of this, it is challenging to forecast the aurora more than two or three days in advance.

With the behemoth sunspot facing toward the Earth, future eruptions could spark the aurora through the first week of June. However, this does not guarantee a repeat of the celestial light show in May when the aurora was visible as far south as Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

AccuWeather will provide more details, including a cloud forecast, when another aurora outburst is expected.

Aurora over Gillette, Wyoming, early on Saturday, May 11, 2024. (AccuWeather/Tony Laubach)

Aurora over Gillette, Wyoming early on Saturday, May 11, 2024. (AccuWeather/Tony Laubach)

To get the best views of the aurora, experts recommend traveling to a dark area away from city lights with a clear view of the northern sky. The lights may appear as a red or green glow above the horizon, and the farther north you are located, the higher the chance you have of seeing the aurora.

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