The fantastic Aurora Borealis display over Kalamalka Lake beach captured through an ultra wide angle lens and 20 second exposure on May 28th, 2017. (Jeremy Broad)

Northern lights expected above parts of B.C. this Labour Day weekend

U.S.-based Space Weather Prediction Center says Vancouver area to get a chance on Sunday

This weekend is bringing good news for sky watchers as U.S. forecasters call for the northern lights to be visible over Vancouver and other parts of B.C.

The Space Weather Prediction Center based in Boulder, Colo., says auroral activity will be high on Saturday from Yellowknife, Edmonton and Winnipeg, with low visibility above Seattle.

On Sunday, the atmospheric phenomenon should be visible in Greater Vancouver.

The aurora borealis is created by electrons colliding with the upper reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere.

According to the centre, the electrons are energized through “acceleration processes,” which allow them to follow the magnetic field of the planet down to the polar regions. There, the electrons collide with oxygen and nitrogen atoms, increasing the atoms’ energy. It’s as those atoms relax back down to lower energy states that light is formed.

ALSO READ: Northern lights chasers in Canada discover new type named ‘Steve’

The auroral forms are made of many tall rays that look much like folds of cloth, the centre said. At night, these rays can form arcs that stretch from horizon to horizon. Close to midnight, the arcs often begin to twist and sway, as if being blown by the wind.

The light show typically appears anywhere from 80 to 500 kilometres above Earth’s surface.

Of course, that’s only if the skies are clear. The best way to view the night sky is to find a high-up spot as far away from artificial lights, such as from street lamps and buildings, as possible.

ALSO READ: Sky gazers to flock to Manning Park Resort’s for its first foray into astrotourism


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ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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