Few things remind us of our place in the cosmos like the auroras that occur at the northern and southern poles. But these dazzling natural phenomena don’t happen at a fixed place and time. Unlike many of Earth’s natural wonders, the auroras are ephemeral and range across thousands of square miles.
For those determined to see them, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a map for that. You can see where the auroras may be visible over the next 24 hours on this map from the Space Weather Prediction Center.
The map shows both the potential location and intensity of aurora events. It updates forecasts every 30 to 90 minutes. Checking the map closer to nightfall will give you the best information about possible aurora events. NOAA also builds these predictions into animated forecasts covering 24-hour spans.
Auroras result from the interaction of solar winds with Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere. But they’re not unique to Earth. They can occur on any planet with an atmosphere and magnetic field and have been observed occurring on Saturn and Jupiter.