Northern lights put on a spectacle in parts of Canada and the USA

Dazzling displays of the northern lights thrilled sky watchers in parts of Canada and the United States on Monday evening after a massive solar eruption accelerated the aurora borealis.

Stunning light displays were reported in several Western and Midwestern states, including Montana, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

The northern lights, or aurora borealis, are caused by charged particles emitted by the sun during solar storms. The colorful light displays occur when these clouds of energetic particles collide with the Earth’s magnetic field and interact with the atoms and molecules in the planet’s upper atmosphere.

The Northern Lights typically light up the night sky at high latitudes, but during intense solar activity they can occasionally be spotted further south than normal.

The auroras observed overnight on Monday were due to an outburst known as a coronal mass ejection that occurred on the sun on Saturday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration The Space Weather Prediction Center announced this in a warning early Tuesday that it was tracking a “strong” geomagnetic storm, adding that sightings of the northern lights were possible in a number of states from Oregon to Pennsylvania, weather permitting.

The Northern Lights typically appear as shimmering curtains or columns of green and violet light, but red, blue and pink hues can also be seen depending on the composition and density of the atmosphere.

A branch of the National Weather Service in Aberdeen, South Dakota, released photos late Monday of spectacular green and purple lights dancing across the night sky.

In Glasgow, Montana, clouds threatened to spoil the show, but patient sky watchers were still rewarded with some impressive displays, according to weather service officials.

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center maintains one Aurora dashboard which provides short-term forecasts of the Northern Lights. When conditions are clear, northern lights are best viewed in dark places and away from city lights.

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