A Rare Sighting of the Northern Lights in South Jersey
If you looked up at the night sky Sunday evening into early Monday morning with the right type of camera, you might have caught a glimpse of the Northern Lights in South Jersey.
A freelance spaceflight photojournalist and imaging specialist at NASA captured the sight of the Northern Lights with his camera from North Wildwood Sunday evening.
A severe geomagnetic storm caused a very rare sighting of the lights in places as far south as Cape May County, New Jersey according to astrophotographer Chris Bakely in Cape May County.
I never thought in a million years that I would be posting a photo like this. Tonight shortly after 9pm the sky lit up with the Northern Lights! The pink pillar remained in the sky for less than 2 minutes then dissipated. As of right now there is still a green glow to the lower horizon but its tough to decipher from the light pollution. This event was only visible to my camera and couldn't be seen with the naked eye.
The science behind the colorful blue, green, purple, and red northern lights is a bit complicated — all you really need to know is that they are so beautiful they will make your jaw drop in awe.
But basically, they become visible to the human eyes when electrons from solar storms collide with the upper reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere.
The explosion expelled "a billion tons of superheated magnetized gas from the sun," according to NOAA. That gas is referred to as plasma.
The burst of plasma then interacts with Earth's atmosphere, generating colorful lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis.
The Aurora Borealis is seen in the Northern Hemisphere, and the Aurora Australis is seen in the Southern Hemisphere.
The plasma ejection reached Earth in two days and caused a Severe Geomagnetic Storm, a level four out of five on NOAA's scale.
According to NOAA, "The Geomagnetic Storm arrived earlier and was much stronger than expected."'
Geomagnetic storms can cause irregularities to the power grid and radio communications. But if and when they last into the evening hours, they can cause the Aurora Borealis to become visible in regions it would otherwise not be.