Active aurora forecast for Alaska this weekend

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Northern lights over Alaska. (iStock)
Northern lights over Alaska. (iStock)
Active aurora borealis displays are expected to light up the skies over much of Alaska starting early Friday.

According to the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute’s Aurora Forecast, an active aurora is expected on Friday and Saturday, visible overhead from Barrow to Anchorage and Juneau, and low on the horizon King Salmon.

On Sunday, the aurora is expected to amp up even more. Highly active displays will be visible over much of the state, “from Barrow to Bethel, Dillingham and Ketchikan,” and again low on the horizon in King Salmon, according to the forecast.

That means eager aurora viewers will want to stay up Saturday night to catch auroral displays in the early-morning hours of Sunday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric and Atmospheric Administration’s three-day forecast shows auroral activity peaking on Sunday at noon but active to 60 degree latitude starting at midnight Alaska time.

Cloud cover, moonlight and light pollution can affect whether the aurora is visible, so check your local forecast and head away from city lights for best viewing.

And if you are a serious aurora watcher, “plan to spend the night from about 9 P.M. to 3 A.M. watching for auroral action,” GI’swebsite states. “Auroral activity tends to come in waves during an evening … Even during an active period, there will be lulls in which the auroral activity is subdued; however, the patient observer will often see a new burst of activity within an hour or two.”

Anchorage photographer Kerry Tasker captured this display of the northern lights in Anchorage at 3 a.m. Nov. 3. Want to photograph this weekend’s displays? Check out these tips and tricks.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Astronauts to photograph northern lights, CBC News

Finland: Northern lights could be visible from southern Finland this weekend, Yle News

United States: Auroral research rocket blasts into space from Alaska range, Alaska Dispatch

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