Faint lights so far being seen in interior and northern Alaska. Kp 5 possible, but it is currently Kp 3. Would I head out tonight if this was my only chance? Yes, in the Fairbanks area. Anchorage areas have less of a chance tonight, but it is possible, if the weather is clear. Don’t forget to check Where To Go on the website if you need to find a good spot to view the lights.
Common question: What time will the lights be out? What is the best time to try to view the lights? What is the most common time for the lights to come out?
Answer: Anytime it is dark. Tonight, the lights were already out by 8pm, but they are faint. We watch and wait. The most common time for lights is in the middle of the night. But what time?? No one knows. It is a waiting game. Some tour guides head out at 11pm, and some at 2am. The most common times are after 11pm. Why? One reason is the earth’s rotation, as that is when the aurora oval is over us. But…..it can arrive hours earlier, or hours later, or even not at all. More reasons include substorms, storms, the IMF, a CME, or coronal hole…..I hope I am explaining this correctly and would love any corrections to this answer if needed (thanks). A detailed explanation can be found in the most excellent book Aurora Watchers Handbook. This book, however, can seem a bit complicated if you are a novice, but great to reference time and again, or to read and absorb one page at a time.
I know you wanted me to say a specific time, because (insert reason). That is why this hobby is so interesting and sporadic, and spontaneous. One good piece of advice is, if you give up before midnight, you are not doing it right! If you see the lights before midnight, then you are lucky! But you may miss the best part of the show. Here’s hoping for weekend early auroras!!! ~Amy