ITHACA, N.Y.—Reports have spread throughout the week that people throughout the continental United States would catch a rare glimpse of the legendary Northern Lights late in the week.

Initial reports predicted the sky display, which is often seen in Canada and Alaska but usually not as far south as the continental U.S., could potentially be seen in 17 states on July 12 and 13, with some reports including New York in the scope. But while the weather phenomenon known as “aurora borealis” will be active, it likely will not reach the eyes of Tompkins County residents, and perhaps not New Yorkers at all.

The above map, from the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, shows where the lights will likely be visible this week. Places within the thin green band will be able to view the lights, but those outside will not. Nearly all of New York, except perhaps small parts in the far north, now falls outside of the scheduled scope for viewing during the two-day period.

The solar storm causing the Northern Lights was recently downgraded, reducing the reach of the lights. Local residents will have to wait for now, but the delay may not be too long as the current 11-year solar cycle is causing larger solar storms, a trend that is expected to continue and peak in 2024.

Matt Butler is the Editor in Chief of The Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at