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]

Denver's Temperature Dropped a Record 64 Degrees In 24 Hours

Leonid Ikan/iStock via Getty Images
Leonid Ikan/iStock via Getty Images

One sure sign summer is over: On Wednesday, residents of Denver, Colorado were experiencing a comfortable 82-degree day. Just before midnight, the temperature dropped to 29 degrees. Between Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, the Denver airport recorded a differential of 79 degrees down to 24 degrees. At one point on Wednesday, a staggering 45-degree drop was seen in the span of just three hours.

All told, a one-day span saw a 64-degree change in temperature, from a high of 83 to a low of 19, a record for the state in the month of October and just two degrees shy of matching Denver’s all-time record drop of 66 degrees on January 25, 1872. On that date, the temperature plummeted from 46 degrees to -20 degrees.

Back to 2019: Citizens tried their best to cope with the jarring transition in their environment, to mixed success. On Wednesday, the city’s Washington Park was full of joggers and shorts-wearing outdoor enthusiasts. Thursday, only the most devoted runners were out, bundled up against the frigid weather.

The cold snap also brought with it some freezing drizzle which prompted several vehicular accidents, including 200 reported during Thursday's morning commute. It’s expected to warm up some in the coming days, but residents shouldn't get too comfortable: Melting ice could lead to potholes.

[h/t KRDO]

Invasive Snakehead Fish That Can Breathe on Land Is Roaming Georgia

Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A fish recently found in Georgia has wildlife officials stirred up. In fact, they’re advising anyone who sees a northern snakehead to kill it on sight.

That death sentence might sound extreme, but there’s good reason for it. The northern snakehead, which can survive for brief periods on land and breathe air, is an invasive species in North America. With one specimen found in a privately owned pond in Gwinnett County, the state wants to take swift action to make certain the fish, which is native to East Asia, doesn’t continue to spread. Non-native species can upset local ecosystems by competing with native species for food and habitat.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division is advising people who encounter the snakehead—a long, splotchy-brown fish that can reach 3 feet in length—to kill it and freeze it, then report the catch to the agency's fisheries office.

Wildlife authorities believe snakeheads wind up in non-native areas as a result of the aquarium trade or food industry. A snakehead was recently caught in southwestern Pennsylvania. The species has been spotted in 14 states.

[h/t CNN]