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Miss the northern lights in Chicago? Super Bowl of space weather continues tonight, experts say

Chicago experienced a rare aurora borealis display due to a solar storm, expected to be visible again through Sunday morning.

Over the weekend, Chicago experienced a rare event that made it feel like the North Pole had come to town. A solar storm brought the stunning aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, to the Chicago area, treating residents to a dazzling display of dancing neons in the night sky.

For those who missed the breathtaking show on Friday night, there's still a chance to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis on Saturday night into Sunday morning. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted a slightly weaker display compared to Friday, with the best viewing times expected between 7 and 10 p.m. on Saturday and 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Sunday.

Michelle Nichols, the Adler Planetarium's director of public observing, explained that predicting the exact intensity of solar flares and the subsequent display of the aurora borealis is challenging. It all depends on when the charged particles from the sun's flares reach Earth.

To stay updated on the best viewing times, Nichols recommended following the latest updates from the NOAA and Dr. Tony Phillips, an astronomer known as the "space weatherman." Saturday night's aurora activity is expected to be strong, possibly even reaching the extreme levels seen on Friday, according to the NOAA.

Nichols described Chicago's first round of aurora as "truly historic" and compared it to the Super Bowl of space weather. She advised viewers to head away from city lights for the best viewing experience and recommended using phones or cameras to capture the stunning colors of the aurora borealis.

As for the local weather conditions, meteorologist Ricky Castro from the National Weather Service anticipated clear skies on Saturday night with minimal cloud coverage. However, Sunday night's visibility might be affected by higher cloud coverage, ranging from 30-40%.

Despite the uncertainty of local weather conditions, Nichols emphasized the uniqueness of witnessing the aurora borealis and the direct connection between the sun and Earth that creates this spectacular phenomenon. So, take advantage of this rare opportunity and enjoy the magical display of the northern lights in the Chicago sky.

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