Skywatchers might be tired today as the past few nights have left them breathless and with little sleep.

Photo of Northern Lights over the Rocky Mountains, Courtesy of Neil Zeller Photography

Solar activity over the past few days has caused the Northern Lights to make an appearance over the Southern Part of Alberta, and are expected to continue again tonight.

Dr. Phil Langill, U of C professor and the Director of the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory near Millarville, says it's hard to predict the aurora.

"Predicting the aurora is like predicting the weather, when people talk like they understand the aurora, and know when things are going to happen, it's just their best guess." Dr. Langill says "They're very unpredictable because they're tied to the activity of the sun."

The sun goes through an 11 year cycle of activity, and according to Dr. Langill, right now the sun is sitting at it's low point, making forecasting space weather even more tedious.

That hasn't stopped people from catching some strong aurora activity over the Foothills though, as recent solar storms have caused the skies to light up.

For those wanting to catch a glimpse of the colorful phenomenon, Dr. Langill says you've gotta get out of town.

"Go somewhere dark, where you have a nice clear sky, no clouds and preferably where you have no moon around, as the moon is so bright it's actually a contributor of light pollution."

Right now, the moon is going through a new moon phase, so Dr. Langill says, we're lucky that all the conditions seem to be at their peak.

"It's that time of year where all variables are in our favour, if we can get rid of those clouds and get some nice warm sunny days and star filled nights, you should actually be able to see some auroras and maybe some meteor shower activity too." He adds, "Every night you can see a meteor going across the sky; it's a random occurence."

Auroras are the effect of a reaction between the earth's and the sun's magnetic field.  

When the sun has a solar flare, or a 'solar storm' it emits charged particals into the earth's magnetic sheild.

Those charged particles collide with atoms and molecules in the atmosphere, resulting in the bright colored lights that dance across the sky.

Hopefully, if predicitions are correct we could see some unsettled space weather in the lowerlattitudes, which means northern lights for the Foothills!