The Big Picture

Colors in the Sky

With a severe solar storm raging, the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, could be seen from the island of Nantucket this week. The phenomenon, usually visible only much farther north, takes place when gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere collide with charged particles released from the sun.--By Lloyd Young
The aurora borealis, or the northern lights, over Derwent water near Keswick, England, on March 18. The northern lights are the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth's atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun. (Owen Humphreys/Associated Press)
A solar flare erupted from the surface of the sun on March 13. The X-class flare, the strongest category of Sun storm possible, was the first of its size in 2015. (NASA)
This photo provided by University of Alaska Fairbanks shows one of four NASA soundings rockets that were launched on Jan. 26 within a half hour into the northern lights in an effort to better understand and visualize turbulent air currents in the upper atmosphere. (Todd Paris/University of Alaska Fairbanks via Associated Press)
The Northern Lights (aurora borealis) are seen in the sky near Salgotarjan, 109 kms northeast of Budapest, Hungary, on March 18. (Peter Komka/EPA)
DeeDee Jonrowe arrives at the Ruby, Alaska checkpoint under the Northern Lights during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on March 11. (Loren Holmes/Alaska Dispatch News via Associated Press)
The wind turbines of Consumers Energy's Lake Winds Energy Park operate as the Northern Lights appear over Ludington, Mich., on March 17. (Steve Begnoche/Ludington Daily News via Associated Press)
The Northern Lights, over Oresund, the strait that separates Denmark and Sweden on March 18. (Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency via Reuters)
The glow of the Northern Lights is seen in the horizon in the Kawartha Lakes region, southern Ontario on Feb. 23. The colorful cosmic display is rarely seen in Ontario. (Fred Thornhill/Reuters)
The Northern Lights (aurora borealis) are seen on the sky above Pilisszentkereszt, 26 kms north of Budapest, Hungary, on March 18. (Balazs Mohai/EPA)
Under the Northern Lights, Ray Redington Jr arrives in Huslia, Alaska, on March 14 during the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. (Loren Holmes/Alaska Dispatch News via Associated Press)
The Northern Lights illuminated the night sky above the observatory of Osnabrueck, Germany, on March 17. Polar lights (or aurora borealis) are caused by a gigantic cloud of charged particles of a solar storm in the Earth's atmosphere. (Asndreas Haenel/EPA)
The Northern Lights are photographed over Dunstanburgh Castle, in Northumberland, England, on Feb. 17. (Owen Humphreys/Associated Press)
In this blog: Big Picture
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