Can you see the northern lights from Iowa?
Yes, it is possible to see northern lights (aurora) from and there are predictions for it tonight (Oct 30th, 2021).
Exactly when? and where?
Well, that’s the real challenge. When they put out a prediction for northern lights, that means the conditions are right. That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen or that it will be clearly visible in a specific place or specific time. However, the conditions for tonight are looking good, as of 5 pm, and skies will remain clear for most of Iowa. UPDATE: As of 9:30pm on Oct 30th, it appears that the solar storm is delayed. When the media reported the possibility of northern lights, it was predicted that the solar storm would reach the earth by sunset and it has not arrived yet. It’s likely to be delayed by 6 hours or more, so there’s is still a chance for early Sunday morning, but time will tell.
What tips do you have heading out to see the northern lights?
- Head out of town away from city lights
- Find a clear view of the northern sky
- Give some time to let your eyes adjust to the dark. NOTE: this is extremely important, it really takes several minutes of being out in the dark (not looking at your phone orother lights) before your eyes really adjust.
What exactly am I looking for? Will it look anything like the photos on this page?
Most often you’ll see a greenish glow over the horizon and if it’s a good display, you’ll see the glow move slowly across the sky. As for colors – you will mostly see various shades of green. The photos on this page (and almost all photos you ever see of northern lights are long exposure photos where the camera is on a tripod and is collecting light for 10 to 30 seconds, which captures more than your naked eye can see.
Am I guaranteed to see something?
No. I’ve been out many times to chase the northern lights in Iowa – sometimes it’s a great display (like the photos on this page show) but other times, it’s a no show or dud. What do I think about tonight’s prediction? This one is worth a short drive out of town to check it out – but no promises. Mother Nature gets to decide when and where, I just have to take a chance to see what happens.