MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As dusk turns to darkness Wednesday night, the curtain is expected to rise over Minnesota on one of nature’s most mysterious shows.

Just get away from the pollution of city lights and peer northward. What you should see is a colorful display of the aurora borealis.

Explains Mike Lynch, “it is truly magical.”

The WCCO radio meteorologist and avid astronomer says you don’t even need a telescope to enjoy this celestial show. As electrons collide with the earth’s polar atmosphere, our nighttime skies are predicted to dance with colorful light.

“People notice them more in October. You’ve heard of October skies? They’re great because we’ve lost all the humidity and the air is more transparent, so we tend to notice them a little bit more,” Lynch said.

Images by Long Prairie photographer Matthew Breiter capture the aurora’s past magic and brilliance over northern Minnesota. However, for this display, the Space Weather Prediction Center says the aurora’s rays of moving light could even reach as far south as the Twin Cities.

“Part of it is that it is unexpected — we don’t really expect to see lights flashing in the sky,” University of Minnesota Astrophysics Professor Robert Lysak said.

Professor Lysak explains that the aurora is often times most active around the spring and fall equinox, which was just last month. But the degree of activity is all dependent on the strength of the sun spots in the solar cycle.

“And right now we’re in the declining phase, which is one of the better times to see it. Usually, just past the solar sun spot peak is when the aurora will be the strongest,” Lysaid said.

Should predictions hold true for Oct. 25, the only ticket one needs to see this show is to get up off the couch, step outside into darkness and look northward.

“So right now it appears the maximum of the solar storm will be between sunset and midnight, so our timing could be great,” Lynch said.

Bill Hudson