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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Why parts of Canada are seeing the northern lights more often and farther south

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The elusive northern lights have suddenly become easier to see in southern parts of Canada’s Prairies thanks to what experts are saying is an increase in solar activity.

After being at a standstill for several years, astronomers say the aurora borealis is lighting up the sky more frequently amid the sun’s current solar cycle.

Scott Young, a planetarium astronomer at the Manitoba Museum, told CTV National News that the northern lights are currently more active than they have been in the last decade.

“Most people have not seen northern lights in quite a while. All of sudden the sun has started to pick up its game. We are getting more solar storms, more activity and that’s translating into more northern lights,” Young said.

Young says the sun controls the auroras as solar wind creates the light show.

He explained that the current 11-year solar cycle has stalled in its last phase, which makes for northern lights that are more frequent and visible farther south.

Photographers in Winnipeg started to notice the change over the past two months, being able to capture stunning photos of the lights just outside city limits.

Justin Anderson first photographed the northern lights four years ago, but he says his most spectacular images were taken this year.

“It’s an incredible experience to see them dancing overhead or even on the horizon and seeing these pillars going up and being able to share that with other people,” Anderson said.

However, those in Manitoba hoping to capture a photo of the dancing lights don’t need to be a professional.

Photographers say the lights are bright enough that any regular camera or even a cell phone will do, but sky watchers may want to catch a glimpse of the lights soon.

While the current solar cycle is expected to last for a few more months, astronomers say the northern lights won’t be this bright again for nearly 10 years once the next cycle begins.

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