JACKSON, Wyo. — The northern lights, or aurora borealis, may be visible in Jackson tonight. The Kp-Index is forecasted at a 6 tonight, and at a 5 tomorrow, making the chance of seeing the show in the valley much higher.
The Kp-Index measures the disruption of the horizontal distribution of the geomagnetic activity, the activity level of the Northern lights. The Index is measured on a scale from 0-9. The higher the value, the more likely the lights will be visible at lower latitudes. The Kp-Index is usually between a 1 and 3, making it visible in northern latitudes of Canada and Alaska.
Along with the Kp-Index, the direction of the interplanetary magnetic field plays a role in how visible the auroras will be. Tonight the IMF is trending southward, the auroras will have a more significant reaction, making it more visible in southern latitudes.
Tonight the Kp-Index is forecasted to be a 6. Under the right conditions, the auroras may become visible in the Jackson hole area. Tomorrow at level 5, there still might be a chance to see them, but a camera might be needed.
The auroras are most visible in areas with little light pollution and wide-open space. The best chance of spotting the aurora is “the three or four hours around midnight, but aurora occurs throughout the night,” the University of Alaska-Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute said. “The moon is also very bright and can make it more difficult to view the aurora, so lunar cycles should be taken into account.”
Luckily, these conditions can be found just outside of Jackson. Since the lights are more visible at northern latitudes, it might be best to head towards Grand Teton National Park.
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