Usually, we aren't lucky enough to see the Northern Lights from way down here in southern Canada.
But that won't be the case this weekend. In fact, tonight, even people in Montreal may have the chance to catch the infamous light show.
TL;DR Forecasts predict the Northern Lights to be particularly amazing tonight, partially because large swathes of Canada are expected to be able to see the Aurora Borealis, a super rare occurrence for cities like Montreal and Winnipeg.
The Aurora Borealis is a phenomenon that occurs when electrons collide way up in the Earth's atmosphere resulting in a release of energy in the form of light.
The Space Weather Prediction Center explains that the Earth's magnetic field moves the electrons into "two ovals approximately centred" around Earth's two magnetic poles, which is why our great North is so lucky and gets to see the phenomenon so often.
The SWPC explains that in the map above, "the 3-Day Aurora Forecast model shows the intensity and location of the aurora as expected for the time shown at the top of the map."
The SWPC has also created an index that lets you check if there is enough magnetic activity (or Kp) to create visibility at your location, based on your location's magnetic latitude.
Montreal falls between Toronto and Quebec City, and at 10 PM tonight, the Kp will be 5 so there is a really good chance that people in Montreal will be able to catch the lights.
That, of course, means that cities north of Montreal should have no problem catching the light show.
Notable cities that will be sure to catch the lights are:
- Quebec City, Quebec
- Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Edmonton, Alberta
- Sudbury, Ontario
- Regina, Saskatchewan
It also looks like most of Newfoundland & Labrador, Northern BC, and, of course, the Territories, will enjoy the Aurora Borealis tonight.
You can check your exact location and compare it to these numbers to see what level of amazing you can catch tonight and tomorrow.
The SWPC also has a three-day forecast that shows Friday night will be the most impressive, too, though some cities will still see a show tonight.
Use this site that lets you compare the magnetic latitude of your city with the required Kp level needed to see the Aurora.
In the map above you can see that the predicted Kp 5 is exactly what most of Canada needs in order to see the Northen Lights, so we should be in for a good night.
So, will you set your alarm and try to catch the Lights?
If you do, be sure to tag us in your photos and videos on Instagram @MTLblog!
EDIT: An earlier version of this article mistakenly noted tonight at 3 AM as the height of the light show.
In fact, the best time to catch the Northern Lights in Montreal is tonight (January 31st) ay 10 PM! (So you won't have to stay up as late as expected!)