Northern lights may be visible across Canada this weekend

Northern lights

According to the Weather Network, Canadians may be able to see an unexpected light show this week.

People from Strathmore, Alberta, Prince Albert Saskatchewan, and Thunder Bay, Ontario tweeted photos of the northern lights, which were visible Monday night.

The Weather Network also says the Aurora Borealis (light show) can be visible from the Great Lakes as well.

According to a PhD student in astronomy at the University of Toronto, Yvette Cendes, this week’s light show is because of a coronal hole in the sun, also known as a crack.

Rachel Ward-Maxwell, a researcher-programmer in astronomy and space sciences with the Ontario Science Centre says, activity on the suns surface releases highly energetic particles through its solar winds, which interact with the magnetic field and atmosphere.

“If the sun is particularly active, that can result in a spectacular light show for us,” she says to reporters.

For the best chance to see the lights this week, Torontonians can head north of the city and away from any light pollution.

According to Ward-Maxwell, the lights will likely look green in colour, because of the oxygen in the atmosphere.

On one hand, Randy Attwood, executive director for The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada says Torontonians should lower their expectations before heading out the door to see the lights.

“It’s not an exact science. These things can peter out,” he says.

On the other hand, Ward-Maxwell says people who are interested should give it a chance.

“Why not take the opportunity to go out and look at the skies? It’s a very rare event. Most people don’t get the opportunity to see it, especially this far south,” she says. “Even if you don’t get to see the northern lights, you still get to enjoy a starry night sky.”