ASK TOM: Viewing northern lights in October

Dear Tom,
My husband and I are planning a trip to Hancock, Mich. for the middle of October and we were wondering if it will be a good time to see the northern lights.

– Karen

Dear Karen,
“Just like meteor showers, aurorae are best seen without interfering moonlight. This year the hunter’s moon is full on the evening of Oct. 18, so getting to Michigan sooner than that will help.” That’s the word from Triton College astronomer Dan Joyce. The frequency of auroral displays increases significantly as you head north, and Joyce says spring and autumn are considered the favorable seasons for auroras auroras.

However, he adds, “We are at a maximum in the solar cycle now, but this time around it’s as limp as any in the last two centuries, so there’s no guarantee there will be significant auroral displays.”

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