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Northern lights visible in Northeast Ohio this weekend? Not likely says expert

Social media feeding false hopes to see the aurora borealis.
A geomagnetic storm could make the auroras more visible in parts of the northern U.S. (Source:...
A geomagnetic storm could make the auroras more visible in parts of the northern U.S. (Source: Stock image/Pixabay)
Updated: Aug. 30, 2019 at 2:24 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -All over social media are reports that the northern lights, or aurora borealis, will be visible this weekend in Northeast Ohio.

“I would look, if you live in Saskatchewan Canada!” Cleveland State University astronomy expert Jay Reynolds said with a bit of sarcasm. “Here? Not so much. It is just not going to be strong enough to reach this far south.”

Reynolds explained that the Sun’s solar flares create those beautiful streaks of colored light in the night sky.

He said to the think of the flare like an upset stomach.

“Our Sun goes through somewhat predicable cycles about every 11-and-a-half years where the sun becomes very active and we see the northern lights,” Reynolds said. “We see them because when the sun is active it’s like someone who eats a pepperoni pizza.”

This map shows the northern lights prediction for this weekend. As you can see Ohio is well out...
This map shows the northern lights prediction for this weekend. As you can see Ohio is well out of the range to see the lights.(Source: National Weather Service)

Unfortunately the solar blasts aren’t strong enough at this time to send the northern lights into our skies.

“If memory recalls, the last time we saw northern lights, bright enough for us to see in Northeast Ohio, was 2009,” Reynolds said.

As for why social media has been whipping people into a frenzy, Reynolds said that’s what social media does.

“Because there was an official report that there is a solar emission heading this way,” Reynolds speculated. “Someone in Canada was able to photograph it, quite well. Cameras can see dimmer stuff than you and I can.”

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