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Northern lights could make for special sky show over Central Oregon

You can look for the aurora through the weekend

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Get ready to turn out the lights, head outside and look up! Our conditions are just right here in Central Oregon for a special show in the sky: the northern lights, that mesmerizing green glow on the horizon, also known as the aurora borealis.

Bob Grossfeld, observatory manager at the Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory, said Thursday that recent solar activity and clear conditions give Central Oregon a chance to see the special phenomenon, usually limited to areas much farther north.

"Northern lights are caused by charged particles leaving the sun -- kind of like a fluorescent lightbulb," he said. "And when they hit the magnetic pole of the planet, they get excited, and we see different colors."

Right now, the moon is in its smallest illumination phase. That means it's not shining that bright, giving us a greater chance of seeing the celestial event.

"I think northern lights, like an eclipse, is a very spiritual experience," Grossfeld said. "But for most humans, seeing something like that -- yeah, it's on a lot of people's bucket lists."

Your best chance at seeing the ribbon of colors in the sky is to be far away from city lights. Grossfeld suggests going to sno-parks, or at least somewhere like the top of Pilot Butte in Bend.

As long as it's dark out, you can expect to see them as early as 8:30 p.m., but a better shot later at night, and they're expected to be visible for a few days.

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Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.


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