ALBERTA

Northern Lights Edmonton: Alberta Aurora Borealis Promise Spectacular Light Show Thursday Night

01/09/2014 07:14 EST | Updated 01/25/2014 04:01 EST

A solar storm that arrived on Earth earlier today may tempt the gremlins in your GPS and cell phones but also promises to put on a spectacular northern lights show.

Space weather watchers say the coronal mass ejection that's visiting the planet at this moment promises to make the skies above Edmonton and northern Alberta, and potentially as far south as Calgary, dance with colour and light Thursday night and Friday morning.

"There is a potential for increased activity tonight due to an inbound coronal mass ejection that accompanied a solar flare," states aurorawatch.ca, the University of Alberta's northern lights watchers.

"A coronal mass ejection is an emission of plasma from the sun. It is these particles that will eventually reach the Earth and potentially 'rain-down' into the upper atmosphere treating everyone to a show."

According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the coronal mass ejection arrived near Earth at 12:32 p.m. MST, initiating the start of a geomagnetic storm.

Ruth Ann Chicoine with the Canadian Space Agency said a nationwide alert had been issued, adding there hasn't been a northern lights phenomenon like this in a year or two.

Sky-watchers not wanting to go out in the cold or not able to get to a dark enough area weren't out of luck. AuroraMAX – a partnership between the University of Calgary, the City of Yellowknife, Astronomy North and the Canadian Space Agency – live streams the northern lights from Yellowknife.

"The good news for aurora watchers is that these particles can disrupt the magnetic field of the Earth enabling trapped particles to also 'rain-down' for a couple of days," according to aurorawatch.

"So if you don't get chance to see anything tonight, you might stand a chance tomorrow too."

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