Nicole Michalik

LOSSIEMOUTH, SCOTLAND - FEBRUARY 20: The Aurora Borealis is seen above WW2 beach defenses on February 20, 2021 in Lossiemouth, Scotland. The Aurora Borealis, more commonly known as the Northern Lights, occurs when solar winds drive charged particles from the sun which strike atoms and molecules in Earths atmosphere causing the light show. (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

What a treat! An upcoming solar storm could bring the Northern Lights to Philadelphia and 16 other stations this week. A solar storm on Thursday, July 13, is expected to make the Northern Lights visible in 17 states. The best viewing times of the Northern Lights on Thursday are currently between 10 PM and 2 AM local time.

An aurora, also commonly known as polar lights, northern lights, or southern lights, is a natural light display in Earth’s sky, predominantly seen in high-latitude regions (around the Arctic and Antarctic). Auroras display dynamic patterns of brilliant lights that appear as curtains, rays, spirals, or dynamic flickers covering the entire sky.

I was very fortunate to see the Northern Lights when I went to Iceland a few years ago. I went with a few friends over Labor Day and it was the most incredible experience. It’s hard to explain how crisp the air is in Iceland. How pure the lighting is. It was funny having to pack to a winter coat at the end of August but it was worth it. We got picked up at the hotel around 9p, because it doesn’t get dark in Iceland until almost 10p in the summer. We drove out to the middle of nowhere and waited. Our guides do this for a living so they knew if we had a chance to see the northern lights or if we had to move. We did move in our minivan two different times until we actually saw them. Unfortunately, they were as bright as you see on Instagram, but we did still see the dancing green ribbons in the sky and it was incredible!

The different colored lights are “caused by collisions between electrically charged particles streaming out from the sun in the solar wind that enter Earth’s atmosphere and collide with molecules and atoms of gas, primarily oxygen and nitrogen,” according to the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

There are two states that aren’t that far from Philly where you might be able to see the Northern Lights!

  • Alaksa

    From Travel Alaska:  Did you know: You can hear the northern lights? It is an extremely rare occurrence, but if you stand quietly and observe the aurora, you just might hear the crackling and whistling sounds of the northern lights dancing in the sky!  This sound is caused by solar particles of the sun meeting the crisp, cold air.

  • Oregon

    I had numerous close friends live in Portland, Oregon and I went to visit a few times. It’s a magical place and they saw the Northern Lights a few times living there. One of them still lives there and is going to let me know if he seems them this week.

  • Washington

    Two friends of mine, who were former radio people, Carla Marie and Anthony (you might remember then from being on the radio in Philly), live in Seattle and love the outdoors. They are always exploring Washington and it’s a gorgeous place to live.

  • Idaho

    From Visit Idaho:  The aurora borealis orchestrating a beautiful show above the Boulder Mountains, just north of Sun Valley, Idaho at the end of February, 2023. Located within the “Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve“ this location is perfect for viewing the night sky, and on some rare occasions the northern lights may even put on a show! If you want a few tips and tricks for chasing the aurora here in Sun Valley and in Idaho hit the link in my bio or click through Visit Idaho’s IG stories to check out the blog we created just in time to celebrate International Dark Sky Week 2023.

  • Montana

    From Visit Montana: How many Trail to the Stars locations have you checked ✔️ off your list this year? Can you imagine this being in your backyard??

  • Wyoming

    Fun Fact, my cousin grew up in Wyoming and her son (also my cousin) moved out to Jackson Hole to work at a ski resort in the winter and does fancy river rafting guides in the Summer!

  • North Dakota

    The home of former Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz! The aurora was out dancing again! Thank you to @crocushillphotography and @grumpiesher for sharing these shots from the evening of May 19th from New John Lake and Bismarck, ND.

     

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    A post shared by North Dakota (@northdakotalegendary)

  • South Dakota

    It sure looks like a magical place. From May through September, the evening lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore National Memorial is held in the park’s outdoor amphitheater! Highlighting the making of this national monument, the evening lighting ceremony includes an inspirational program focusing on the presidents, patriotism, and the nation’s history.

  • Minnesota

    Minnesota will always have a special space in the hearts of Philadelphians since it’t in Minneapolis where the Eagles won their very first Super Bowl! Now imagine seeing the Northern Lights there too.

     

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    A post shared by Explore Minnesota (@exploreminnesota)

  • Wisconsin

    Here’s to starry nights. The views shine brighter at this dark sky state park. 🙌 📷 @j.scott.ferguson 📍 Newport State Park

     

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    A post shared by Travel Wisconsin (@travelwisconsin)

  • Michigan

    I don’t know if it’s their advertisting, but Michigan always does a great job of making me want to go visit. I want to rent a house right on Lake Michigan and swim and hang by the fire and bike through Mackinac Island.

     

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    A post shared by Pure Michigan (@puremichigan)

  • New York

    One of the second closest places you should be able to see the Northern Lights from Philadelphia. New York sure is way more than the “Concrete Jungle.” I want to go to the Finger Lakes so badly.  It always looks gorgeous and it’s such a close drive.

     

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    A post shared by I LOVE NEW YORK (@iloveny)

  • New Hampshire

    New Hampshire is gorgeous. It’s an under 6 hour drive from Philadelphia and it has all the nature one could desire. I was in Portsmouth, NH a few years ago and loved it. Very quaint that you felt like you were in a movie set.

  • Vermont

    Another East Coast gem and another spot I still haven’t been. I do think it’s weird that I’ve been to Iceland, Italy, Portland, OR yet never been to Vermont or Pittsburgh. Ha.

     

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    A post shared by Vermont Tourism (@vermonttourism)

  • Indiana

    I always think Indiana is much further than it is. It’s literally along the same latitude as Pennsylvania. I did stop in Indiana when I was driving with my family from Pennsylvania to Chicago for a wedding and we stopped to see Notre Dame’s campus in South Bend.

  • Maine

    Maine is breathtaking. I’ve been twice and loved it so much. Also could be that I love lobster and chilly summer nights which Maine does perfectly.

     

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    A post shared by Visit Maine (@visitmaine)

  • Maryland

    Closest to Philly for your chance to see the Northern Lights! Maryland is less than a hour from Philadelphia and we have alot of listeners from Maryland as well. If you’re into amazing scenes, taking a quite drive down 95 South will be totally worth it.

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