Northern Lights Are Seen in Places Where They Normally Aren’t

The northern lights are visible across North America and Europe and may be visible again on Monday night.

Overnight and into the morning of Monday, a spectacular display of colors lit up the sky in an unusually large area of northern hemisphere. This astonished people all over North America and Europe.

Scientists said that the display could be seen as far south as Iowa, in the United States as well as parts of southern England.

This phenomenon, also known as northern lights or aurora borealis, is caused when particles emitted from the sun collide and are trapped in the Earth's magnetic fields. It can be observed often from Alaska, Canada, and Iceland.

Robert Steenburgh is a space scientist at the Space Weather Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These bursts, also called coronal mass eruptions, are a common phenomenon.

"The sun spit out a big blob" of plasma, Mr. Steenburgh explained. He said that the burst of magnetic energy had been traveling through space, and when it reached Earth's magnetic fields on Sunday they collided, creating a geomagnetic thunderstorm. "It got the magnetosphere pretty pumped up."

Steenburgh stated that the aurora is visible closer to the Equator when this occurs. He said that such events are common, occurring about 100 times every 11 years. The storms can also disrupt high-frequency radios used by seafarers and airlines.

The northern lights, which are often associated with divine spirits in folklore, can be a source of awe or fear for those who have never seen them before.

The Times reported the sight in 1929 after many readers called to tell them about it.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Riverton (Wyo.) shared photos of a sky that was painted with vibrant greens and deep purples. Also, the northern lights could be seen in Canada, over Toronto and parts of Wisconsin as well as Maine.

The northern lights can be seen in Europe over southern England. Magenta and yellow streaks illuminate the sky above Stonehenge.