Northern lights: Quebec could be entitled to a superb spectacle


The aurora borealis is born from the interaction between particles from the solar winds and the upper atmosphere of the Earth. The different colors composing the auroras are explained by the composition of the solar winds. Thus oxygen will give green and red tints, while nitrogen, for example, will color the sky blue, red and violet.

Since the poles will act a bit like a magnet, attracting these atoms, it is usually much easier to observe them near them. Although it is easier to see them beyond the 65th parallel, certain special conditions can allow them to be seen at lower latitudes. However, the solar flares must be particularly powerful to allow this spectacle to make its way into the skies of more southern regions.

This is likely to be the case for the next two days. Some regions, such as Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Gaspésie, are particularly well placed to be entitled to a striking spectacle. A Kp index of 5 is on the radar for the next two nights, which corresponds to a minor solar storm.


Good to know : The Kp index is an indicator of geomagnetic activity, ranging from 0 to 9. It is often used to determine the probability of observing auroras in several given regions.


Clouds could complicate observation

The presence of clouds in the night sky, however, could mask the aurora borealis. The night from Saturday to Sunday will be particularly difficult. The spectacle could therefore be greatly reduced for all of southern Quebec. Despite everything, if a thinning takes shape, it will perhaps be possible to see some auroras…

Sunday to Monday night may offer better opportunities in areas further north – those most likely to see the colorful sails light up the sky.

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The optimal conditions are met between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m., in a place far from light pollution.

September and October are among the best months for viewing the Northern Lights.

Some tools to observe the aurora borealis:

  • Space Weather Canada, to verify if geomagnetic activity will be sufficient to create auroras
  • Planetary K-index, from NOAA, to check if the auroras will be visible from Quebec or Montreal, for example (if the k index exceeds 5, this will be the case)

SEE ALSO: The Abitibi sky full of auroras despite the clouds

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