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Northern Lights Go South: Geomagnetic Storm Lights U.S. Skies with Auroral Display

Aurorae were visible Monday across the U.S. Midwest and into the Deep South



© Kevin Dempsey. Used with permission

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A solar outburst over the weekend delivered lovely aurorae Monday, setting the night sky aglow over mid-latitude regions rarely treated to such sights.

Plasma that erupted from the sun Saturday in a burst called a coronal mass ejection reached Earth Monday and delivered charged particles into the upper atmosphere. Those charged particles can excite atoms in the ionosphere, which emit light as they return to their unexcited state. The resulting aurorae (aka the aurora borealis) could be seen in parts of more than half the 50 states, according to Spaceweather.com, where users reported sightings in distinctly non-Arctic locales such as Alabama, Virginia and Kansas.

Thanks to the efforts of amateur skywatchers, those of us who missed these aurorae can still share in their beauty.

Click here for a slide show of Monday's northern lights in a series of photographs taken from sites across North America.

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