I usually have look at the Space Weather site and look at the right-hand screen which shows a view from the POLAR satellite of the so-called auroral oval. If you see a bright ring on the image, then you know that an aurora is going on right now. Click on the 'current activity' link in the text provided below this image for a detailed view of the POLAR image. In general, you need to have a rather bright and persistent ( several days) auroral 'storm' event going on before there is a good chance to see it from the US. Favored sites will be in Alaska, Michigan, Maine and the states bordering Canada. Visit the SEC space weather page for an extended forecast good for a few days. Generally, the most active times are in March and September, and especially during sun spot maximum conditions when you should have weekly auroral displays from some northern localities.
All answers are provided by Dr. Sten Odenwald (Raytheon STX) for the
NASA IMAGE/POETRY project.