Aurora photographed in Cheyenne, Wyo., on July 16. (Jan Curtis via SpaceWeather.com)

A geomagnetic storm bombarded Earth’s atmosphere Sunday, setting off the northern lights at high latitudes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center rated it a moderate storm, level 2 on its 0 to 5 scale.

The storm was waning when darkness settled Sunday night and aurora finally became visible in North America. But vibrant green and purple lights streaked over the Canadian skies.

In the northern United States, the hues were more subtle but still sensational.

Photographers in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Upstate New York, Michigan, Minnesota, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana and Washington state all captured the spectacle.

The animation, below, from Mackinaw City, Mich., is particularly impressive:

The show was even better in the Southern Hemisphere, because the storm’s peak coincided with nighttime there. The image below was taken in New Zealand:

The geomagnetic storm originated from a solar flare that erupted on the sun Friday and then emitted a plume of charged particles known as a coronal mass ejection.

Such events have been rare over the past year because the sun’s activity is near a minimum in its approximately 11-year cycle.

More photos and video from the United States and Canada

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