Astronomers Worldwide Anticipate a 'Sharp' Increase in Northern Lights – Scientists Puzzled by the Reason

Next year is expected to bring a significant surge in Northern Lights observations, and scientists are struggling to understand the cause.

According to Darren Baskill, a lecturer in physics and astronomy at the University of Sussex, during the solar maximum, the Sun produces "significantly more" polar auroras.

Solar spots, which trigger solar flares that cause the Northern Lights, become twice as likely during the solar maximum.

"We are now approaching the maximum, so I expect high levels, and practically every few days, we will witness polar auroras," said Baskill of the Norwegian tourist company Hurtigruten. "Whereas five years ago, you might have had to wait weeks to see anything."

The solar maximum is the peak of solar activity that occurs approximately every 11 years.

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However, the solar maximum is expected to occur earlier than anticipated, according to NASA scientist Robert Lemon and Scott McIntosh, the deputy director of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

They suggest that the peak of the cycle will happen a year ahead, in mid to late 2024.

This means that the best time of the decade to check off the Northern Lights from your bucket list is just around the corner.

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How to See the Northern Lights

Star-gazers will need to wait just eight to 12 months to witness the largest and brightest polar auroras within an 11-year solar cycle.

Solar spots, the black regions on the Sun's surface, are particularly active areas that can "spew" solar wind toward Earth.

When these streams of highly charged particles collide with Earth's magnetic field, they cause the upper layers of the atmosphere to glow.

This era of increased activity is what gives people the epic spectacle of the Northern Lights.