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Experts: Northern Lights Could Appear Over Tri-State Area Saturday Night

The Northern Lights

This picture taken overnight on March 17, 2013 shows the Aurora borealis, or northern lights, seen in Tallinn. (Credit: RAIGO PAJULA/AFP/Getty Images)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Northern Lights may make a rare appearance in the Tri-State Area Saturday night, according to experts.

AccuWeather reported a solar flare that happened around 2 a.m. Saturday was expected to create a “spectacular display” of the Northern Lights. The flare was categorized as a 6 to 8 in geomagnetic storm intensity, meaning the effects of the radiation will be far-reaching, AccuWeather reported.

The Northern Lights could be visible from the Arctic as far south as New York State, as well as the Dakotas, Washington State, and Michigan, AccuWeather reported.

A map prepared at 9:30 a.m. identified conditions for viewing the Northern Lights as “good” for an area ranging from southern Ohio on the west to the Atlantic coast on the east, and including New York City and the north suburbs, Long Island, southern Connecticut, and all of New Jersey.

But an appearance of the mesmerizing lights is not guaranteed for the area.

The lights were expected to arrive at 8 p.m. Saturday, but with a deviation of up to seven hours. If the radiation hits much after dark, the Northern Lights will not appear on the East Coast and will only be seen in the West, AccuWeather reported.

The radiation from the solar flares was also expected to cause possible radio wave disturbances for cell phones, radios and GPS devices, AccuWeather reported.

The Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, are generated by collisions between electrically-charged particles from the sun as they enter the earth’s atmosphere. They are typically pale green and pink, but also appear in a variety of other colors.

Areas without light pollution are the best for viewing, experts say.

Typically, the Northern Lights are associated with areas closer to the Arctic, such as northwest Canada and Alaska.

But a Gothamist report Saturday said the Northern Lights have appeared over New York City before – most notably in the 1859 “Carrington Event” solar storm, but also in 1877, 1941 and 1946.

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