A beautiful nighttime phenomenon was witnessed by a lucky few in New England this week: the Northern Lights.
The Aurora Borealis - known better as the Northern Lights - were seen and captured in a photo by the team at the Mount Washington Observatory overnight Friday.
“In this pic, the green, reds, and blurple stretch from Mt Clay (left) to the lights of Berlin, NH (right). The orange tint low on the horizon in the left of the frame is from Canadian light pollution,” the Mount Washington Observatory said, describing the photo.
The Northern Lights and Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) are the visual result of electrons colliding with the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explains. “The accelerated electrons follow the magnetic field of Earth down to the Polar Regions where they collide with oxygen and nitrogen atoms and molecules in Earth’s upper atmosphere. In these collisions, the electrons transfer their energy to the atmosphere thus exciting the atoms and molecules to higher energy states. When they relax back down to lower energy states, they release their energy in the form of light.”
The process is compared to how a neon light works.
The Northern Lights appear as far south as the United States when space weather activity increases and more frequent and larger storms and substorms occur.
The lights only appear late at night when the skies are dark, free of clouds and light pollution.
It was not the first time the phenomenon has been seen from Mount Washington. In July, members of the Mount Washington Observatory saw the lights while viewing Comet Neowise.
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