Northern Lights may be visible in Virginia Friday night

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ROANOKE, Va It's something many only dream of seeing. The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, may be visible in some areas of the Mid-Atlantic Friday night.

"We had several reports of people seeing the Northern Lights Thursday evening in rural areas of Highland County," says WDBJ7 Chief Meteorologist Brent Watts. Friday night may also offer an opportunity to see the rare event according to NASA Space Weather experts.

The Aurora Borealis occurs after a severe geomagnetic solar storm impacts the Earth's atmosphere. The display is called the Northern Lights because it typically occurs closer to the North Pole and Alaska, but when strong enough, can be visible even across the Mid-Atlantic.

Just because the forecast calls for a possible viewing, doesn't mean it will be visible everywhere. Cirrus clouds and even city lights can obstruct the view of the lights.

You'll want to find a very dark spot, away from city and town lights. Look north and be very patient.

When you see them in real life, the Northern Lights aren’t actually very colorful at all. They often appear milky white in color, almost like a cloud. If you’re lucky, you might see faint glows of green, light purple or pink, and only in rare cases do viewers report bright, multicolored light shows.

If you're a photographer, it's normally not until you get your camera back that you see the colorful views of the Northern Lights.

Give it a try and see what you find. We'll pass along any sightings we see on our Facebook and Twitter pages.