Astro Bob: Cross your fingers for aurora Sunday night, April 23-24

A blast from sun may shake things up Sunday night!

Auroral arcs March 23, 2023
A powerful blast from the sun arrived at Earth around 12:30 p.m. CDT Sunday, April 23, that could spawn a nice show of northern lights across the northern states and possibly as far south as Illinois. I took this photo during the last big display on March 23-24, 2023.
Contributed / Bob King

Watch out! The sun's pitching protons at Earth again. A coronal mass ejection from a couple days ago arrived at the planet this afternoon and fired up a strong (G3) geomagnetic storm. Folks living in Russia and the Scandinavian countries undoubtedly saw a fine aurora blow up in the sky while it was still daylight here in the U.S.

Ovals April 23 2023.jpg
The peak of the storm was expected Sunday night (April 23), but the solar squall arrived early. No telling at this point what to expect for storm intensity on Sunday night, but aurora is expected to linger. These maps show the predicted extent of the aurora Sunday afternoon (left) compared to 7 p.m. CDT Sunday evening.
Contributed / NOAA

It's possible the storm, which had been predicted to peak between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. CDT, April 23-24, may be subsiding. Or it may come around and give us another wallop. Either way, there's a good chance the observers in the northern U.S. and Canada will see the red and green dancers starting as soon as late twilight, around around 9:30 p.m. local time.

Aurora cloud bank
Looking like a massive cloud bank, the aurora gathers strength before exploding into multiple coronas and fast-dancing on March 23.
Contributed / Bob King

If it's clear, face north and look for a low arc or possibly rays in the lower half of the northern sky. I'll be checking back and posting updates. Although skies are predicted to be partly to mostly cloudy for the Duluth area, the forecast looks great for Crex Meadows , the Minong, Wisconsin, area, north-central and northeastern Wisconsin and parts of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, including Houghton-Hancock . The links will take you to a website that tracks clouds. The more dark blue squares you see between 21:00 (9 p.m.) and 3 a.m. the better!

I just returned from north of Houghton (with a perfect forecast for Sunday night) to Duluth, which proves that nature loves to visit irony on hapless humans like myself. I'll probably travel south a bit into Wisconsin in hopes of finding a hole in the clouds.

Corona aurora
The March 23 corona aurora turned out splendidly using a handheld iPhone 13 which gave a 3-second exposure.
Contributed / Bob King

Remember that you can use any recent iteration of Android or iPhone to capture photos of the aurora even if you don't own a tripod or smartphone adapter. Aim your iPhone at the aurora while holding it as still as you can with two hands. When you tap the red "button," it will take a stabilized, 3-second exposure of the scene. Trust me, it works!


To get alerts when the aurora shows up in your neck of the woods, download Aurora Forecast & Alerts for iPhone ( Android ). Good luck!

"Astro" Bob King is a freelance writer and retired photographer for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at
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