The Washington Post

Aurora radiate in northern night skies following burst of solar wind (PHOTOS)

Aurora (northern lights) from the summit of Mount Washington Observatory Tuesday night (photo cropped, see full version) ( Mount Washington Observatory Facebook page )

On Tuesday night, an “energized solar wind” - as NOAA put it - produced conditions prime for aurora at northern latitudes.

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center said a “moderate” (G2) geomagnetic storm hit the Earth. The brilliant aurora display occurred as the Earth’s magnetic field was optimally aligned with the incoming blast of solar charged particles, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME).

“When a CME arrives here at Earth, one of the most important aspects is the magnetic structure,” SWPC wrote on its Facebook page. “Sometimes the magnetic structure is so mixed up, it has little or no effect here at Earth, other times, like today, the structure or orientation is that which really effects Earth.”

Aurora over Tromsø, Norway Tuesday night ( Ole C. Salomonsen via )

Observing the aurora from Tromsø, Norway, Ole Salomonsen described a “mindblowing” scene for the website

This for sure was the strongest aurora so far this season. The magnetograms at the University of Tromsø went bananas! Tromsø is a city of about 70,000, so it has a lot of light pollution; even so, the auroras were clearly visible standing in the middle of the city. It was just sick!

Here are a few incredible photos that were posted to’s gallery from the northern U.S., Canada and northern Europe:

Aurora over Sortland, Norway Tuesday night ( Frank Olsen via )

Aurora near Marsh Lake, east of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada. ( David E. Cartier, Sr. via )

Aurora over Lievestuore in central Finland Tuesday night ( Janne Heimonen via )

Aurora over Antrim County, Michigan Tuesday night ( Megan Noble via )
Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.

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