Northern lights come south for unusual viewing of aurora borealis

The northern lights are illuminating the skies farther south than normal due to a powerful solar storm.

Instead of the customary green shimmer, auroras were observed from Washington state to Wisconsin as mostly a crimson hue. Sky watchers also observed the wonders from Colorado, California, New Mexico, and even Arizona in the United States.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on Monday that an explosion of very hot material from the sun late last week flung searing gases known as plasma toward Earth at about 2 million miles per hour.

According to NOAA, Sunday was when the storm's force was felt on Earth. Forecasters had already warned operators of spacecraft and power facilities about the possibility of interruption.

The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado's Bill Murtagh stated, "I don't want any expectations of these green curtains moving back and forth" that far south.

Even though the situation has improved, if the sky remains dark late on Monday or early on Tuesday, auroras may still be visible as far south as South Dakota and Iowa.

According to Murtagh, the further northern the location, the greater the display will be as the charged particles interact with the atmosphere closer to Earth. As the particles interact higher in the atmosphere, the curvature of the Earth blocks off the most brilliant vistas the further south we go.

Murtagh said that Boulder's light pollution made it impossible for him to observe the auroras on Sunday night. But when the solar cycle intensifies, there could be additional chances.

Stay tuned; there will be more, he added.

According to NOAA, this was the third major geomagnetic storm since the beginning of the 11-year solar cycle in 2019. The organization predicts the cycle's climax will occur in 2024.

The southern lights should deliver similarly impressive presentations for people living down under, according to Murtagh.