There's been a lot of buzz lately here in Illinois and around the country as far south as Florida about the Aurora Borealis, or Northern lights.

Illinois, or at least Northern Illinois, has had a few opportunities before to see the Aurora Borealis, but those who are in-the-know say we've recently been getting our best chances to see the lights in over 20 years, and with the current solar conditions, we should have much more to see...and it's not just us.

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We've Been In A Very Volatile Period For Sun Activity, And That Has Produced Some Incredible Images Of The Northern Lights

According to a report from NASA, there was a something called a "severe" G-5 level storm that hit the Earth last Friday night into Saturday morning. To put that storm into perspective, NASA says that's the strongest one to hit us in 21 years, and that's what gave us such a light show over the weekend.

The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) says that the numbers after the G are what indicates how far south people will be able to see the Northern Lights:

  • G-1 storm: Maine and Michigan's Upper Peninsula
  • G-2 storm: New York and Idaho
  • G-3 storm: Illinois and Oregon
  • G-4 storm: Northern California and Alabama
  • G-5 storm: Florida and Southern Texas

Although they're both really cool, there's quite a bit of difference between seeing the Aurora Borealis way up north like in this shot from Fairbanks, Alaska:

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Compared to this photo taken in Wisconsin:

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If you're someone who's really into this particular topic, there are a couple of cool ways to keep yourself updated on when the best chances to catch the Aurora Borealis will be.

One is an app called My Aurora Forecast & Alerts, available at the app store for iPhone users and on Google Play for Android users.

Another is a website called AuroraNotifier.com, where you can actually have alerts sent to your phone so you never miss a Northern Lights opportunity.

Would you ever want to do this for the ultimate look at the Northern Lights:

KEEP READING: Get answers to 51 of the most frequently asked weather questions...

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