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Spooky skies! Northern Lights could glow over western Washington Halloween weekend

Following a powerful solar flare, the Aurora Borealis could make an appearance over western Washington over Halloween weekend.

SEATTLE — Get your cameras ready! 

The Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, could put on a show this Halloween weekend in western Washington following an intense solar flare on Thursday.

The expected geomagnetic storm could cause the lights to be seen as low as Pennsylvania on the east coast, Iowa in the Midwest and Oregon on the west coast, according to the Space Weather Prediction Center.

On Friday, a Geomagnetic Storm Watch was issued for Saturday and Sunday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

This means that aurorae are expected to intensify Saturday morning with Saturday night through Sunday morning being everyone's best chance to see the lights. However, Sunday night could put on a show as well for Halloween celebrations.  

Thursday's solar flare peaked around 8:30 a.m., and shortly afterward, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory spacecraft positioned between the earth and the sun saw high-energy particles hurtling directly toward earth.

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The flare was associated with a coronal mass ejection, which involves a burst of plasma that carries particles called ions.

When these ions interact with the earth’s atmosphere, it causes them to glow.

With weather clearing after a week of high winds and heavy rain, western Washington could be in for quite a display of the aurorae.

“The best way to view them is to find a place with a clear view of the sky to the north and, importantly, far away from any city lights,” KING 5 Meteorologist Rich Marriott said.

Cameras are preferred to capture the aurorae since they can capture more light than the naked eye. In Washington state, stargazers could expect greenish lights that become more yellow lower toward the horizon.

The Halloween weekend show comes just a couple of weeks after the most recent Aurora Borealis appearance in the Pacific Northwest.  

The Oct. 11 show saw the lights reach as far south as Enumclaw and Tacoma.

To work out your best chance of spotting the Northern Lights, head to the Space Weather Prediction Center and check out the Aurora forecast.

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