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3/20/21 Michigan Upper Peninsula Northern Lights?

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We were supposed to go on a Ski trip to the Upper Peninsula on the 18, 19, and 20th of this month, but they closed because of the recent quick warmup.

 I checked the Kp index for those 3 days "Just in Case", because we already had a cabin there, and found that the 18 and 19th had a prediction for a Kp-5 scale event, while the 20th had a Kp-4 prediction. (we are going to the northernmost point of the UP).  Then, I checked the weather forecast for the night of the 18 and 19, because the chances of seeing the Northern Lights with a Kp-5 were higher than a kp4, and its going to be pitch black cloudy. (100% cloud cover on the nights of the 18 and 19. Next, my only hope, i checked the forecast for the night of the 19/20th and it said 5% cloud cover! So, i guess that's a success, but i have 2 questions. 

#1: Will the difference in the Kp 5 and Kp 4 matter? Because we are going to plan to look for the northern lights on the night of the 19/20, so i'm guessing it'll be like a kp4/5. 

#2: If the weather on the northmostern point of the upper peninsula stays clear on the night of the 19/20, and the kp is a 4, will we not see the northern lights because its not a 5?


Thank You -         

Hey i'm glad to say that its been updated, and the cloud forecast for the night of the 18/19 (when aurora is at kp-5), is only 11% cloud cover!

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13 hours ago, Madison Gonzalez said:

Most likely, with that latitude which is about 47-48 degrees you would only need Kp4 or Kp5 to see aurora while where I live, we need Kp7 or Kp8 to see aurora which is at 40 degrees latitude

Not entirely true, KP 4 is decent chance from the northern UP, KP 5 is a pretty good one!  I've glimpsed Auroral glow in a long-exposure photograph at KP from the latitude of the southern tip of Lake Michigan.  If cloud cover is clear and the Aurora does turn out to be as strong as the predicted maximum, you could most likely see an aurora in the northern sky.
Assuming conditions are favorable, other factors such as the direction of the interplanetary magnetic field can make or break an Aurora opportunity, and that is impossible to predict, just gotta hope for the best and watch it in realtime.  The fact you have more than one night gives a better chance of snagging a favorable chance.
Here is an image from SpaceWeatherLive's website, showing the UP to be solidly in the High Latitude zone, where KP 4 is a good chance.

I'm fairly new to Aurora hunting, I could be wrong, but this is what I've read.

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It's technically more important to have clear skies, because regardless of how far north you could concievably go, clouds will spoil the show. It would only increase your chances at getting auroras by going north, but a few dozen miles wouldn't increase those chances by much.

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4 hours ago, DarioAlbahari said:

Thank You!

I have another question :              When I'm already on the Upper peninsula, is it more important to be as far North as possible, or to have as least clouds as possible?

within that range, clouds are much more important.

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9 hours ago, Tony92 said:

I think the kp index changed for the the 18th and 19th unfortunately.

Yes, sadly the odds seem to have been downgraded, it's still a possibility to glimpse them, but less likely, I guess you have to decide how much your trip would depend on that.

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  • 3 weeks later...


I know this is a bit after the fact, but I'm up in the UP on the keweenaw peninsula, which it sounds like is where you were headed.  So for future reference I can tell you we get a lot of lights up here.  Granted, my house is on Lake Superior facing north, but there are a TON of spots where you can post up on a beach to take in the show.  Since we have literally no light pollution up here, what we've found is that at a KP2 or KP3 we can see a misty green glow north across the lake.  At a KP3 we get some lights, mild to moderate, not quite overhead, but very visible.  At KP4 it's a solid show, and anything higher than that is gravy.  I'd say next time you're up here, if it's a KP3 or higher, head to the lake (wear your ski/snowboard gear though, it's cold).  

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