The Northern Lights could be seen in rare locations across the US over the weekend.
Lubbock, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah experienced the light shows.
Stunning auroras this far south are rare but could become more common in the next year, or so.
The Northern Lights lit up the skies with brilliant reds, purples, and greens in a rare appearance this weekend in the southern half of the US. The light show was spotted as far south as Colorado and Texas, per SpaceWeather.com.
This unusual feast for the eyes was thanks to a pair of eruptions on the sun. On Saturday and Sunday, highly-charged particles from at least two coronal mass ejections struck Earth, per SpaceWeather.com.
Coronal mass ejections happen when the sun's magnetic fields collide, causing an explosion that propels charged sub-atomic particles into space that then interact with particles in Earth's atmosphere.
Not every CME strikes Earth, but in this case, the explosive region of the sun was facing our planet when it erupted, and the resulting particles triggered a strong geomagnetic storm that lit up the skies farther south than usual in places including Spokane, Washington; Salt Lake City, Utah; Aberdeen, South Dakota; and even Lubbock, Texas.
The National Weather Service, storm chasers, and photographers posted images of the spectacular show on X, formerly Twitter, seen around the world — take a look below.
—NWS Spokane (@NWSSpokane) November 6, 2023
—NWS Lubbock (@NWSLubbock) November 6, 2023
—NWS Riverton (@NWSRiverton) November 5, 2023
Salt Lake City, Utah
—NWS Salt Lake City (@NWSSaltLakeCity) November 6, 2023
Aberdeen, South Dakota
—NWS Aberdeen (@NWSAberdeen) November 6, 2023
—Landon Moeller (@landon_wx) November 6, 2023
Landon Moeller, who took the images above, told Insider via direct message "that it is not the aurora itself, but a similar phenomenon called 'stable auroral red,' caused by a geomagnetic storm."
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
—Peter Forister 🍁🍂🍁 (@forecaster25) November 6, 2023
Bull Run Mountain, Virginia
—Michael WX (@DMV_Spotter_WX) November 6, 2023
—NWS Glasgow (@NWSGlasgow) November 6, 2023
—Angel Enriquez (@AngelWxman) November 6, 2023
Ellicott City, Maryland
—9sami98 (@9sami98) November 6, 2023
—Alison Cavanagh (@AlisonCavanagh7) November 5, 2023
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
—Matt Melnyk (@melnyk_photos) November 6, 2023
Northern Lights far south might become more common
Auroras are visible in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and you're more likely to see them closer to the North and South Poles, according to NOAA.
However, the sun is becoming more active and will soon reach solar maximum, a time of peak activity when solar eruptions are more common. That could make aurora events like this more common as CMEs increase.
Scientists estimate solar maximum will occur between January and October of 2024, per NOAA.
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