The northern lights spilled over into New England last Wednesday morning, courtesy of an eruption on the sun that supercharged a geomagnetic storm.
From the top of the Northeast's highest peak, a night observer at New Hampshire's Mount Washington Observatory snapped pictures of the greenish glow of auroras around 1:00 a.m. EST, and then again just after 2:00 a.m. EST. At 6,288 feet (1,916 meters) tall, Mount Washington is famous for its erratic weather and whipping winds, but skies were clear over the observatory overnight.
The shimmering lights were also visible across the state border, in Maine, where photographer John Stetson stood on the frozen edge of Sebago Lake early Wednesday and pointed his camera north towards Raymond Beach. [See Photos of Amazing Auroras]
"A green ribbon of color could be seen on the horizon, and a purple-blue could be seen extending skyward," Stetson wrote in an email. He pointed out that the 1,619-foot-tall (493 meters) communications tower that cuts through the auroras was the tallest man-made structure in the world when it was built in 1959.
The northern lights, or aurora borealis, flare up when high-speed charged particles from solar storms slam into Earth's magnetic field, sparking geomagnetic storms. Ions of oxygen and nitrogen in the upper atmosphere can get excited during these storms, producing electrifying bands of color in the night sky. (The phenomenon also occurs in the Southern Hemisphere, over Antarctic skies, and is known as the aurora australis, or southern lights.)
According to forecasters at Spaceweather.com, a minor geomagnetic storm was already underway when a coronal mass ejection, or CME, sent a huge cloud of solar material speeding toward Earth. The CME impacted the planet around 9:00 p.m. EST Tuesday (0200 UTC Wednesday) and further fueled the geomagnetic storm, triggering auroras in the northerly parts of the continental United States.
Nighttime photographers were able to capture the northern lights in the Midwest, the Great Lakes region and in the Pacific Northwest, too. Pictures of auroras shared on Spaceweather.com were submitted from locales like Sauk Rapids, Minn., Bellevue, Wash., and Crofton, Neb.
Copyright 2014 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Residents from Barcelona, Spain, to Nice, France, will face the risk of flooding rain Friday into the start of the weekend.
A stormy pattern extending from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean will set the stage for multiple rounds of severe weather over the south-central part of the nation well into April.
The early spring can make for a good time to jumpstart your spring garden, especially for plants that can withstand lingering shots of cold air.
Dry weather will span the United Kingdom from Friday to this weekend, much to the delight for those with outdoor plans.
Anyone with outdoor or travel plans across Germany early this weekend will be greeted by dry, mild weather.
After harsh cold at midweek, temperatures will soar across the mid-Atlantic as winter chill lingers across New England into the weekend.
There is a distinct difference between a watch and a warning, and knowing the difference can save your life.
AccuWeather has strengthened its mission of saving lives, protecting property and helping people prosper with the launch of AccuWeather Ready - a year-round weather preparedness program that focuses on keeping people informed and safe.