How to Catch the Northern Lights When They Appear Over the U.S. This Week

You don't need to plan a special vacation to see the Northern Lights live. If you live in the northern contiguous United States, the meteorological phenomenon may be visible from your backyard on Wednesday, February 27, Thrillist reports. Here's everything you need to know before catching the event.

What are the Northern Lights?

Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, are caused by solar particles colliding with gases above Earth. When fast-moving electrons from the Sun hit the upper layers of the Earth's atmosphere, they react with oxygen and nitrogen by transferring some of their energy to the gas molecules and "exciting" them. The excited molecules eventually return to their normal state and release photons into the air. On a large enough scale, these photons appear as the undulating waves of green, pink, and violet light know as Aurora Borealis.

This phenomenon is mostly observed at the poles because that's where the Earth's magnetic field is the strongest, and therefore where concentrations of solar energy are highest. But occasionally people living at lower latitudes are treated to the spectacle, as should be the case this week.

Where and When to See the Northern Lights

Due to an upcoming geomagnetic storm, experts predict that the Northern Lights will appear farther south than usual on February 27. In the U.S., northern states like Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Maine fall within the aurora's projected range.

According to the Space Weather Prediction Center, geomagnetic activity will peak between 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday. That means the best time to see the Northern lights is after the Sun has fully set in your area on the night of February 27. And if you miss the lights this time around, they're always a plane ride (or a luxury cruise) away.

[h/t Thrillist]

The Northern Lights May be Visible in New York, Michigan, and Illinois on Saturday

The Northern Lights, a meteorological event most common to areas north of the Arctic Circle, may be visible over parts of America this weekend, Newsweek reports. Due to a solar storm, the light show may appear Saturday night over states in the northern part of the contiguous U.S., including New York, Michigan, Illinois, and Washington state.

Aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights, occur when solar particles react to gases in Earth's atmosphere. Magnetic energy exaggerates this effect, which is why auroras most often appear at the geomagnetic poles where Earth's magnetic field is strongest. Rare circumstances can produce this phenomenon at lower latitudes, which may be the case this weekend.

On Wednesday, March 20, a solar flare sent a blast of solar particles toward Earth. The resulting geomagnetic storm could make for a vibrant and colorful aurora reaching as far south as New York and Wisconsin.

To catch the spectacle, look up at the night sky on Saturday, March 23. People in areas with minimal light pollution have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights, though cloudy weather may make them hard to see.

[h/t Newsweek]

The "World's Cleanest Garbage Can" Won't Stink Up Your Kitchen


Modern living has removed a lot of the sights and smells that people find unpleasant. Exhaust fans sweep away cooking odors. Toilets make waste vanish in seconds. But there's still the dreaded plume of stinking garbage that wafts up every time you open the kitchen trash can.

Enter Canbi, a sharp-looking and cleverly engineered kitchen garbage can designed to both reduce odors and improve the entire waste disposal process. The product, which is currently being funded on Kickstarter, uses an environmentally-friendly deodorizer that utilizes baking soda and activated charcoal to reduce smells coming from the can. It also features a "nesting" liner system that keeps bags from collapsing into the opening and eliminates the chore of fumbling with new bags. Pull one out for disposal, and another is already lining the can. The latex liners are also biodegradable, reducing your reliance on plastic bags that clog landfills.

The large and small sizes of the Canbi garbage can are pictured

Canbi is designed to be flaunted, not hidden. Unlike most trash receptacles that are made to be stuffed under the sink or behind a cupboard, the sleek can, which comes in two different sizes, is made to be proudly displayed in your kitchen. The customizable accent rings come in three styles—gold, platinum, and rose gold—so that you can match your can to your favored kitchen aesthetic.

Buy it on Kickstarter. The 3-gallon can is available at the $29 donation level, while the 12-gallon version starts at $52. A 25-pack of replacement liners will be available on Canbi's website for roughly $7.49. Replacement deodorizers, which last three months, will run about $3.75. The trash cans are expected to ship in July.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!