AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska — The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, shines above Bear Lake here Jan. 18. The lights are the result of solar particles colliding with gases in Earth’s atmosphere. Early Eskimos and Indians believed different legends about the Northern Lights, such as they were the souls of animals dancing in the sky or the souls of fallen enemies trying to rise again. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Joshua Strang)

This just in: the next 18 months will be the most energetic northern lights in 20 years!

On September 23, 2023 scientists told NBC News that sunspot observations have substantially grown since the end of 2022. This has caused the related Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, greatly exceed projections. In some cases it has also pushed the edge of where the lights can be seen farther south to places that normally wouldn’t get to see them. This is awesome! If the trend continues, more people will be able to see more Northern Lights more frequently, and if you’ve never seen them before, or even if you have, you’ll want to pay attention to this article, and see how you can predict when and where you can see them!

The highest activity of the past 20 years

According to the report, the next 18 months will see the highest activity not just of the past 20 years, but also of the next 10 years! If that’s not enough, until autumn 2024, when the likelihood of Aurora Borealis becomes the greatest, solar activity is anticipated to grow progressively as we’re in a period of Solar Maximum.

The Northern Lights are a natural light display that occurs due to interactions between energetic particles that the Sun spews towards the Earth, and the Earth’s magnetic fields, which protect us from this potentially harmful radiation. Typically, they’re visible in high-latitude polar areas close to the North Pole. Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Canada, Alaska (USA), and Russia, are often destinations where people travel to to see them. However, they sometimes dip into the northern United States, and occasionally as far south as Iowa, and Pennsylvania. This Astropotamus has even seen them in his stomping grounds of Upstate New York near Lake Ontario.

Forecasting the Northern Lights

Perhaps the best tool for forecasting whether you can see the lights or not is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Aurora Forecast tool available at

This tool takes into account both solar activity and geomagnetic conditions to produce high quality projections that not only Astropotamuses but hundreds of organizations and thousands of people use every day to plan their Northern Lights viewing. In general, NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction web site is a great tool for all things aurora, including an alerting service that you can subscribe to be notified when there are solar flares that are likely to produce the lights (or other effects such as power outages, radio blockages, or satellite issues).

You can find that at

So be on the lookout for this great time to stare into the night skies without any Time Machines or optics or cameras and witness some of the awesome things that the Cosmos gives us: The Northern Lights!