Driving home last night, somewhere around here, I glanced out my driver’s side window and saw a slight glow in the sky. At first I thought it was the moon behind the clouds, but as I watched it spread across the sky and took on a distinct greenish cast.
It quickly became apparent that I was seeing the Northern Lights. I called my family, and by the time I got home they were outside (some in their PJs straight from the shower) and ready to hop in the car. We drove out of town a little bit (one advantage of living in a small town being that we’re only about 5 minutes from somewhere relatively free of light pollution) and stopped to watch the show.
Here’s the apparent cause (from SPACE.com):
Space weather forecasters revised their predictions for storminess after a major flare erupted on the Sun overnight threatening damage to communication systems and power grids while offering up the wonder of Northern Lights. “We’re looking for very strong, severe geomagnetic storming” to begin probably around mid-day Thursday, Joe Kunches, Lead Forecaster at the NOAA Space Environment Center, told SPACE.com this afternoon. The storm is expected to generate aurora or Northern Lights, as far south as the northern United States Thursday night.
Unfortunately we didn’t get a photo of the lights we saw, but they were similar to what’s seen in the photo at right, from Channel 3000, which also has a very brief explanation of the phenomenon.