The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. The forecast looks promising for Aurora activity this Saturday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. The forecast looks promising for Aurora activity this Saturday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Aurora won’t be boring-alis this Saturday night

Major aurora activity to light up Juneau this weekend

Major aurora activity is predicted for the night sky across Alaska this weekend, peaking Saturday night, according to the Geophysical Institute’s Aurora Forecast.

“The reason it’s gonna be big this weekend is there’s been a coronal mass ejection,” said Geophysical Institute public information officer Sue Mitchell. “There’s a hole in the sun’s magnetic field that allowed a lot of solar material to escape.”

The aurora is caused by those particles from the sun running into the earth’s magnetic field and interacting with the electrons there, Mitchell said. The reason the aurora is concentrated at the poles is due to the shape of the magnetosphere.

Mitchell said that the activity of the aurora is unlikely to affect anything besides creating interference for radios, but that’s not always been the case. A 1989 solar storm knocked out all power for the entire province of Quebec.

“Space weather can affect things like electrical grids,” Mitchell said. “There have been times when a really active aurora has blown transformers and damaged the power grid.”

Mitchell said Saturday’s aurora will be caused by a G2 geomagnetic storm, or a moderate strength storm. The storm that blacked out Quebec was a G5 strength storm, the strongest classification. Alaska is actually in better shape than the Lower 48 would be in the case of a major geomagnetic storm, Mitchell said, due to its many independent power grids rather than large interconnected grids.

Know & Go

The aurora will be most visible here between midnight and 3 a.m. on Saturday night/ Sunday morning. It will be most easily visible in areas far from artificial light. The storm may appear to dissipate, only to come back.

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 523-2271 or

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Jan. 22

Library Director Dave Berry and Advisory Board Chair Kate Finn participate in Library Advisory Board meeting on Tuesday Jan. 17, 2023, at Homer City Hall, in Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Emilie Springer/Homer News)
Homer Library Advisory Board upholds decision to retain LGBTQ+ books

A citizen’s group last year submitted a petition asking that the books be removed from the children’s section

Courtesy Photo / Juneau Police Department 
This photo shows Woodrow Farrell Eagleman who police say after going missing on Jan. 11 was seen leaving town on Jan. 12 via airport surveillance.
Police: Man reported missing took plane out of town

A Juneau man recently reported as missing was found leaving town on… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, Jan. 26

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Juneau-based actor Xáalnook Erin Tripp was recently named one of the 2023 Artists in Business Leadership Fellows for First Peoples Fund program. Tripp said she intends to use to program’s grant funding to set up a professional recording studio in Juneau for her voice acting career and to share with other artists in the community. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
First Peoples Fund to help Juneau actor create recording studio for voice acting

Xáalnook Erin Tripp among artists with Southeast ties to earn the award.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
Katie Botz, a Juneau school bus driver honored by Gov. Mike Dunelavy for her advocacy on behalf of abuse victims, stands to applause during his recognition of her during the State of the State speech Monday night at the Alaska State Capitol.
‘A victory for all of us’: Juneau woman recognized among Resilient Alaskans for her advocacy

Katie Botz’s presence — and brief absence — as a victims advocate led to a big win and governor’s honor.

Arnold Vosloo as Colonel Bach addresses US soldiers in latest film, “Condor’s Nest” in theaters and digital release on Friday. (Courtesy Photo / PMKBNC)
‘Popcorn thriller’ set in South America features actor from Alaska

“Condor’s Nest” will be available on demand Friday.

Jim Cockrell, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Public Safety, speaks in Wasilla at a May 3, 2022, news conference. Cockrell has ordered an investigation after troopers mistakenly took a school principal into custody for a mental health exam. (Photo by Yereth Rosen / Alaska Beacon)
Troopers, misled by false court order, detained principal for mental health check

State troopers mistakenly took Alaska’s 2022 Principal of the Year into custody…

The Juneau School District’s recently announced the new principals for Juneau Community Charter School and Mendenhall River Community School who are set to start in their positions this fall. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
District selects new principals for Juneau Community Charter and Mendenhall River Community School

The new school heads will join the district in the coming academic year in the fall

Most Read