The Aurora Borealis, or northern lights, can appear across multiple world areas. Sightseeing these unique green and swirling blue lights in the night sky is one of the most amazing experiences in the world. The lights are very vivid and interact with the Earth’s magnetic field and solar winds.
Missouri is known for its iconic Gateway Arch landmark, a unique tourist attraction. However, many visitors wouldn’t think Missouri would be an excellent place to view the Northern Lights. There are specific locations that you have to go to to view them. So, can you see the lights of the north in Missouri?
Can You See the Northern Lights in Missouri?
Although rare, the Northern Lights can be seen in Missouri, but it requires a particularly intense solar flare and tends to appear fairly low on the horizon.
Missouri is not the best area to view the Northern Lights. That being said, it’s not entirely impossible.
Has the Northern Lights Ever Been Visible in Missouri?
For the most part, the Northern Lights generally aren’t visible in Missouri. The only place in Missouri that has been proven to show the Northern Lights under rare conditions is Northern Missouri.
While visitors were only able to catch a glimpse in non-light-polluted areas, a few unique weather conditions also helped make this incident possible.
What Kind of Conditions Make it Possible to See the Northern Lights in Missouri?
Typically, the Northern Lights can be seen on a dark sky clear of clouds. Additionally, the further the sky is from the city, the easier it will be to see the northern lights due to no light pollution. Furthermore, the northern lights are easier to see during March and September during the equinoxes.
However, viewing the Northern lights from Missouri is a bit different. Since Missouri isn’t located in the Northern Hemisphere, conditions will need to be different. In Missouri, light conditions require little light pollution and a rare geomagnetic solar storm.
Why aren’t the Northern Lights as Visible in Missouri as Other Places Like Alaska?
The auroras are best viewed closer to the poles of the Earth. In the north, the northern lights are called the Aurora Borealis, and in the south, it’s called the Aurora Australias. In Missouri, the closest pole is the northern one, which means you’ll view the Aurora Borealis.
The northern lights aren’t as visible due to Missouri’s location. It’s located closer to the equator of the Earth, which makes it harder to see the lights unless there are solar flairs.
So, this is why Alaska gets a better view because it’s closer to the north pole. Aside from that, there needs to be a Kp-index rating of at least 7 before any area has any chance of viewing the northern lights.
What is the KP-Index, and How Does That Relate to Seeing the Northern Lights in Missouri?
The KP-index is used to measure and describe the global geomagnetic activity index. It measures increments every 3-hours from ground-based magnetometers located around the world. The device measures the maximum deviation of the horizontal component of the magnetic field.
The KP-index tracks auroral activity on a scale of 0-9.
The higher the K-P, the greater the solar activity, which means the northern lights will be visible further south.
For Missouri to see the Northern Lights lights, there will need to be enough solar and geomagnetic activity to rate a 9 on the KP-index.
The 5 Best Place to See the Northern Lights in Missouri?
As you can see, location will be a significant factor if you can see the northern lights. In Missouri, a few key locations can increase your chances of viewing the lights if the KP index is high. Below, we’ll give you a breakdown of five of the best spots.
1. Broemmelsiek Park
Broemmelsiek Park is located in St Charles County, MO, and is one of the only places with a designated Astronomy Viewing Area. Each Friday, the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri views the sky. It’s the perfect place to view the northern lights due to being out of town and having semi-high altitude.
2. Mark Twain National Forest
Mark Twain NF is located in the Southern Half of Missouri and was established in 1939. The beautiful creek area features a camping ground and picnic area full of trails and mountains. Due to its location, it’s only open April through October. During this time of the year, it’s perfect for viewing the northern lights because of its rural area and high peaks.
3. Talbot Conservation Area
Talbot Conservation Area is located in North-Central Lawrence County. It features a large open land with little wooded areas. This makes it perfect for viewing the Northern lights as there won’t be any objects blocking the way.
4. Echo Bluff State Park
Echo Bluff State Park is a year-round outdoor destination perfect for viewing the northern lights and camping. The lodging includes guest rooms and cabins for rent. That way, if there aren’t KP-index solid ratings, you can always try viewing another night.
5. Long Branch State Park
Long Branch State Park is a public recreation area located near the Long Branch Reservoir in Macon County, Missouri. Long Branch is more geared towards watersports and outdoor recreational activities than the other areas.
However, the location is away from any city, making it have low light pollution rates, which is excellent for viewing the northern lights.
Tips For Seeing The Northern Lights in Missouri
Viewing the Northern Lights in Missouri can be challenging, as there are only specific times of year that you can see them. A considerable influence is a weather, light pollution, and clouds. So, below we’ll list a few tips and tricks you can use to increase your chances of seeing the Nothern Lights in Missouri.
1. Download A KP-Index App
The number one tip we can suggest is downloading a Kp-index app. An app can help estimate the best time to visit certain areas so that you can see the lights. Of course, most of these apps are only estimations.
2. Check The Weather
Weather can also highly impact whether you can see the lights. If there is rain, clouds, wind, etc., these factors can influence how hard it will be to see the lights clearly. Knowing ahead of time can help plan and increase your chances of viewing the Northern Lights.
3. Pick a Good Location
Knowing the above two mentioned tips isn’t enough to pick a bad location. Find a location that isn’t surrounded by trees, isn’t close to light pollution, and provides a clear view of the sky above. Any buildings or mountains can sometimes obstruct your view.
Viewing the Northern Lights in Missouri is challenging if you don’t know where to go or what to look out for. If you want to increase your chances, use the information we provided in this article. By doing the tips mentioned earlier, you’ll be able to catch a glimpse when conditions are good.
Although, Missouri isn’t the best place to see strong Northern Lights. Better places include areas closer to the Northern Pole. However, suppose you live in the Missouri area or find yourself visiting. In that case, it’s worth checking to see if the conditions will be good for viewing.