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Here's why you might see the northern lights this Halloween weekend

The northern lights can be seen from the Cameron River viewpoint off the Ramparts Falls trail on the Ingraham Trail near Yellowknife, Canada.
The northern lights can be seen from the Cameron River viewpoint off the Ramparts Falls trail on the Ingraham Trail near Yellowknife, Canada.

If you're looking for a good Halloween lights display this weekend, you may only need to look up at the sky.

The northern lights, or aurora borealis, could be visible across a large portion of the northern U.S. this weekend, including the far Northeast, Upper Midwest and the state of Washington, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The lights might even be seen as far as Pennsylvania, Iowa and Oregon.

A solar flare erupted on Thursday morning and is expected to reach Earth on Saturday. NOAA's Space Weather prediction center in Boulder, Colo., announced the possibility of increased visibility of the lights on Thursday when it issued a G3 geomagnetic storm watch for the weekend.

When the solar flare eruption happened, it resulted in a coronal mass ejection, or a large cloud of solar-charged particles headed toward Earth. These particles are what may amplify the northern lights.

If you want to increase your chances of seeing the lights or seeing them as clearly as possible, it's recommended that you get out of cities or to places with less light pollution.

Earlier this year, scientists finally answered a long-asked question of what causes the lights. They said those stunning displays of green, blue and purple lights come from disturbances on the sun pulling on Earth's magnetic field. From there, cosmic waves are created that launch high-speed electrons into the atmosphere, which creates the phenomenon.

For the other effects of the geomagnetic storm, NOAA listed possible effects of voltage irregularities, false alarms on some protection devices and interruptions to navigation and radio signals.

If you're not in an area where you might see the lights this time, there's always Halloween movies to watch, pumpkin carving or smashing and good old-fashioned trick-or-treating around the neighborhood.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.