This view of the aurora borealis from the International Space Station was captured over the Midwest of the continental United States. NOAA says the phenomena known as the northern lights could be viewed as far south as Oregon this week.

A file photo of the aurora borealis, captured when the International Space Station saw Northern Lights over the midwestern United States.

NASA

A storm that started more than 92 million miles away is sending a spooky light snow to skies above the Pacific Northwest — and across the northern third of the rest of the United States, too.

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It started with a powerful solar flare that left the sun on Thursday. Now charged particles are heading toward Earth, prompting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to announce a geomagnetic storm watch for Saturday and Sunday nights.

That’s likely to result in visible aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, in areas where the lights are rarely seen.

The ghostly night-sky phenomenon, which at its brightest can fill dark skies with glowing, dancing sheets of translucent green and purple lights, occurs when electrons from the sun’s solar flares collide with the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere, according to NOAA.

In cities or other well-lit areas, light pollution may render the phenomenon invisible to the naked eye, and cloud cover can also block views. If skies are clear, though, a drive to rural areas of Washington or northern Oregon is likely to provide space enthusiasts with a glowing show.

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