The Northern Lights meet the Mason-Dixon

How do you know that you just experienced a more-impressive-than-average display of the Northern Lights? When somebody can take a picture like the one above in freaking Arkansas. Arkansas, people.

Photographed by Brian Emfinger in Ozark, Arkansas, these auroras were triggered by a big coronal mass ejection—a burst of energy from the Sun that can interact with our atmosphere to produce particularly spectacular examples of the aurora borealis. I missed the light show last night, but has a collection of photos taken around the world, from Michigan to Norway.


  1. Curses! It was cloudy and raining all night in my little piece of Alaska. I’m far enough south in the state that we only get good displays a few times a year, and clouds, midnight sun or even a full moon cuts down even those few. Last night’s display looks like it was amaziballs!

    This is from a display this past April:

  2. According to the date of the one taken in Arkansas (Arkansas! Really!) it was taken just yesterday. So why didn’t I, in Tennessee, get to see such a spectacular aurora? I’m sure there are several reasons. Oh well, I guess I just have to take off to the great white north. Not that I’d mind. I’ve often said that if someone grabbed me and said, “Would you like to fly off to Suriname right now?” I’d say, “Let me get my toothbrush.” We’d probably be somewhere over Guatemala before I thought to ask, “By the way, who are you?”

    Unfortunately it’s finding the time and money to indulge my wanderlust that’s the problem.

  3. Best Northern Lights I’ve ever seen were in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada – which is very near north shore of Lake Erie and quite a bit further south than you would expect for an aurora. Full colour psychedelia spanning half the sky. Amazing.

    Second best – while skinny-dipping on Kits Beach in Vancouver, after the fireworks. The aurora came up over the North Shore Mountains and between that and some fantastic BC bud, I’m pretty sure I achieved enlightenment. Fuck, I miss Vancouver.

  4. Best aurora I ever saw was in about 1987 while camping at Lost Maples in Central TX. Long before the intertubes and cellphones, so we had no idea what it was. We actually surmised that perhaps it was nuclear bombs destroying San Antonio. Didn’t find out what it was until we emerged from the woods a few days later and someone asked us if we’d seen the aurora.

  5. Are these things Predictable?  I’ve always wanted to see one, but I need to plan to escape the city ahead of time.

    1. To an extent, yes, since they’re based on sun activity. The University of Alaska Fairbanks has a pretty good one:

  6. I’ve seen it several times during the 10 hour flight from SFO to CDG sitting on the north side of the plane  in mid October. The colors weren’t as spectacular as these photos. It’s more like a continuously melting length of curtains. Enough to keep you awake all night which is why I always choose a window seat.

  7. Best time I’ve seen the lights was the first time about 25 years ago.  Some buds and I were cruising the country roads of upstate NY in the Helderberg Mountains area, an area devoid of major light pollution.  We were drinking and dropped acid about 15 minutes before, then stopped in the middle of the road for a piss break.  I was leaning back, enjoying it when I saw the crimson in the sky.  “Man, this is good acid!”  My buddies laughed at me and explained to this southron about the aurorae.  I saw them again years later near St. Louis.  My nephew came and got me saying, “The sky’s on fire!!”

  8. I’m in south-central Kansas and noticed a red haze glowing over what is sparsely inhabited farmland.  I couldn’t figure out what it was.  Guess this answers that question.  Neato!

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