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Philly Residents Hope For Glimpse Of Northern Lights

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Skywatchers are hoping to catch a glimpse of a rarely seen skyshow in these parts: the Northern Lights.

The phenomenon is caused by solar activity, most recently on Saturday.

Franklin Institute Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts says on Saturday, there was a release of electromagnetic energy.

“These are blasts of very very hot gas off the surface of the sun that creates an effect, that eventually creates aurora borealis here on the earth, if the coronal mass ejection is intense enough,” he explained.

Pitts says the aurora borealis looks like a colorful shimmering curtain of light, appearing in the northern sky, normally between 50 and 70 degres latitude. We’re at 40 degrees.

“The likelihood of our seeing it is on the low side,” he said.

Pitts says there’s still plenty to see once it gets dark.

“You’ll be able to view the planet Jupiter over in the southwestern sky, and Saturn, in the southern sky,” he said.

Pitts says Jupiter will be easy to spot, since it’s the brightest object in the night sky.

And, he said, if there’s no light pollution where you’re watching, “you can also take a look for the Milky Way, which will stretch aross the sky from southeast to south-southwest. While you’re under those dark skies, keep your eyes open — maybe you will see a shimmer of color.”

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