The northern lights will make a rare appearance in America this weekend. Here's how to see it.
via Studiolit / Flickr

The northern lights or, if you want to get technical, Aurora Borealis, are one of the most beautiful displays on Earth. It's an incredible show of dancing green lights with the occasional appearance of blue, yellow, and red.

The lights are caused by a cosmic collision between between electrically-charged particles released from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere and meet with gases such as oxygen and nitrogen.

The lights have been mythologized all over the world. The ancient Greeks believed it was caused by Aurora, the sister of Helios and Seline (the sun and moon), racing across the early morning sky in her multi-colored chariot.


The Chinese believed the lights were a celestial battle between good and evil dragons that breathed fire across the night sky.

The French thought the lights were a bad omen heralding the outbreak of plague, war or death.

The good news is that the lights making a rare appearance in the continental U.S. and aren't bringing any war or death, although they could possibly bring impeachment.

The lights are regularly visible in North Western Canada, Alaska, Scandinavia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Antarctica.

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If you live within the rings on the map below you'll have a good chance of seeing the northern lights this weekend (September 27 to 29).

They should be visible in northern Idaho, northern Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and, of course, Alaska.

via Space Weather Prediction Center

Here's a scientific breakdown about what's happening according to NOAA.

Geomagnetic activity is expected to rise on Friday, September 27 due to an increasingly disturbed solar wind field associated with effects of a positive polarity coronal hole high speed stream (CH HSS). The solar wind environment is anticipated to become enhanced and solar wind speeds are expected to climb towards 650 km/s later on the 27th; likely causing G1 storm conditions. Geomagnetic activity is expected to escalate further in reaction to elevated solar wind speeds approaching 700 km/s, likely leading to G2 storm levels on Saturday, September 28. Enhanced activity is anticipated to continue into early Sunday, September 29 - with an early period of G1 storm levels likely.

For the best view, you'll have to be in an area without any light pollution so you'll have to leave the big city. "You need very clear skies, a good view of the northern horizon (no trees, buildings, or hills), and it needs to be dark," An Space Weather Prediction Center representative told Thrillist.

via Alison Tomlin / Flickr


On February 19, 2020, a group of outdoor adventurists took a 25-day rafting trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. During the trip, they had no cell service and no contact with the outside world. When they ended they ended their journey on March 14, the man who pulled them ashore asked if they had been in touch with anyone else. When the rafters said no, the man sighed, then launched into an explanation of how the globe had been gripped by the coronavirus pandemic and everything had come to a screeching halt.

The rafters listened with bewilderment as they were told about toilet paper shortages and the NBA season being canceled and everyone being asked to stay at home. One of the river guides, who had done these kinds of off-grid excursions multiple times, said that they'd often joke about coming back to a completely different world—it had just never actually happened before.

The rafters' story was shared in the New York Times last spring, but they're not the only ones to have had such an experience.

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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