Photos show 'stunning' Northern Lights over US. Will it happen again?
People living in more than a half-dozen states could see a dazzling — and surprising — display of the Northern Lights between Thursday night and Friday morning. It's an "exceptional" event that officials say is unlikely to be repeated on Friday night.
The dancing green glow of the aurora borealis was reported in several states, including Washington state, Montana, Wyoming, Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, and New York.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center's aurora forecast cited "stronger than anticipated" influences that helped make the overnight event a widespread spectacle in the northern U.S.
The faint aurora is typically only visible from a dark place, making it tougher to see in metropolitan areas.
PREVIOUSLY: Northern lights dazzle in the sky across Europe in stunning timelapse
FEBRUARY: Aurora borealis made a rare appearance in Colorado, setting skies ablaze
Auroras not expected Friday night
Unfortunately for aurora fans, the spectacle from Thursday night is not expected to be repeated Friday night, William Murtagh, the program coordinator at NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center, told USA TODAY.
The solar storm that produced the auroras last night has weakened, he said, adding that Thursday night's aurora "was an exceptional event."
What did the Northern Lights look like?
Weather Service offices shared photos of skies ablaze with shimmering green and purple hues.
Forecasters were stunned by the display, including an incredulous tweet from a Minnesota forecast office: "I'm no photographer but we're able to see the Aurora with our naked eye here in Chanhassen!"
The weather service office in Spokane, Washington, called the spectacle "stunning."
Tonight's aurora is STUNNING! Spokane won't have clear skies for much longer, so now's your chance to get out and see the lights 🙂 pic.twitter.com/IkDaNjGkUK
— NWS Spokane (@NWSSpokane) March 24, 2023
There's something about the period around equinoxes that seem excite auroras. I mean, after a day like yesterday, who wouldn't be? 😀
This image from @Skunkbayweather in Hansville this morning is just jaw dropping. And that color of aurora is not common around here. #wawx pic.twitter.com/RXYLYP2q7f
— NWS Seattle (@NWSSeattle) March 23, 2023
From the Sears Point camera in the last hour … Northern Lights seen in the North Bay skies northern horizon 🤯#CAwx 3/23/2023 #AuroraBorealis @NWSBayArea pic.twitter.com/zMlSTOWKVD
— Rob Mayeda (@RobMayeda) March 24, 2023
When reports of lights seen as far as Northern California began to surface, one Twitter user asked the San Diego National Weather Service whether the Aurora Borealis ever been visible in the southern part of the state. The forecast office replied, saying that a Northern Lights spotting is rare because of urban lights, but an occurrence was reported in 2000.
3/23 9 PM: Northern Lights are in full force. This picture was taken at our forecast office around 9 PM. #NorthernLights #wywx pic.twitter.com/PCn2pmQtTp
— NWS Riverton (@NWSRiverton) March 24, 2023
It was quite the #northernlights show last night. Keep sharing the best snaps you were able to get! pic.twitter.com/w04MDdSIeg
— NWS Gaylord (@NWSGaylord) March 24, 2023
Gaylord Post troopers on the midnight shift had another spectacular view of the Northern Lights last night. pic.twitter.com/RGujAlMdcH
— MSP Seventh District (@mspnorthernmi) March 24, 2023
I'll add to the beautiful photos this evening of the Northern Lights at our office in Duluth. #Aurora pic.twitter.com/mf8P4IYyax
— NWS Duluth (@NWSduluth) March 24, 2023
I'm no photographer but we're able to see the Aurora with our naked eye here in Chanhassen! #mnwx #wiwx #northernlights pic.twitter.com/zDTheTNGTI
— NWS Twin Cities (@NWSTwinCities) March 24, 2023
It's 3 AM and the Northern Lights are still showing up on webcams, though they're getting kind of faint to us. Check out this MNDOT webcam loop from near Ely! pic.twitter.com/B9noFeO52t
— NWS Duluth (@NWSduluth) March 24, 2023
Who else got a glimpse of the northern lights last night? https://t.co/638UDMIfKE
— NWS Omaha (@NWSOmaha) March 24, 2023
It's 240 am and the northern lights are still showing up nicely on this webcam image from near Lake Poinsett. Pretty cool!! 3/24/2023 #sdwx pic.twitter.com/x899hxONT1
— NWS Aberdeen (@NWSAberdeen) March 24, 2023
Northern lights visible from the office here in Rapid City! Though the lights from the city are washing it out a little (ok maybe a lot). Mostly clear across western SD and NE WY - step outside and take a look! #sdwx #wywx pic.twitter.com/8rTCnw3r4e
— NWS Rapid City (@NWSRapidCity) March 24, 2023
Our view of #NorthernLights at the @NWSBismarck office. There's plenty of light pollution looking across the airport and city to the north and we're still able to see them! #ndwx pic.twitter.com/e8kFJkPneT
— NWS Bismarck (@NWSBismarck) March 24, 2023
Here's a view of the northern lights (along with Venus & Jupiter, we think) on the Fallon County web camera facing northwest at 9pm. Cool! #mtwx #wywx pic.twitter.com/2mKoe5AHA7
— NWS Billings (@NWSBillings) March 24, 2023
Taken just before midnight, breaks in the clouds allowed us to capture the Aurora at the office. While faint, there is a haze of color. It was not visible to the naked eye though. Were you able to see it or capture a photo of it tonight? #northernlights pic.twitter.com/UGcImLu4Og
— NWS Binghamton (@NWSBinghamton) March 24, 2023
#northernlights #Aurora gave us quite a show at NWS LaCrosse last night/early this morning. Hope you were able to check it out. Thank the solar wind interaction with upper atmosphere (oxygen/hydrogen) for green-red shimmering curtains of color. Science is cool. #mnwx #iawx #wiwx pic.twitter.com/SRVObLZB78
— NWS La Crosse (@NWSLaCrosse) March 24, 2023
What causes the Northern Lights?
The colorful aurora forms when particles flowing from the sun get caught up in Earth's magnetic field. The particles interact with molecules of atmospheric gases to cause the famed glowing red and green colors of the aurora.
Contributing: Drake Bentley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NOAA's Northern Light forecast for US: More auroras Friday night?