Seeing the aurora borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights, is nearly always somewhere near the top of most people’s bucket lists. The incredible natural phenomenon creates a spectacle that people wait years, even lifetimes, to behold. The only caveat is that to see them clearly, you need to venture towards countries closest to the Arctic and Antarctic circles that are, though stunning, extremely cold and often remote.
So what if we told you that the dazzling light spectacle was visible in the skies of the Midwest?
What is the aurora borealis, aka the northern lights?
The aurora borealis is a stunning display of neon green waves that have captivated humans for millennia. They occur when a magnetic solar wind slams into the Earth’s magnetic field, causing the upper atmosphere to glow as particles interact with Earth’s atoms and molecules.
According to Space.com, “energized particles from the sun slam into Earth’s upper atmosphere at speeds of up to 45 million mph.” In doing so, they create what Space.com calls “the Holy Grail of skywatching.”
When the energized particles from the sun interact with gases in our atmosphere, colors are created in the skies as oxygen gives off green and red light while nitrogen glows blue and purple.
Were you lucky to catch a glimpse?
People in some parts of North America on Sunday were lucky enough to gaze upon Northern Lights, including in Illinois.
According to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, parts of Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and even Iowa were part of an “Aurora viewline” Sunday evening, as a geomagnetic storm reached strong levels.