Northern Lights Encore?

November 20, 2011

[photo: flickr user Haukur H]

You might be able to see the aurora borealis in the Colorado night sky this weekend. If so, it would be an encore performance. Last month, the celestial light show from the north made a rare appearance in the state. Colorado Public Radio’s Zachary Barr has the story.

Zachary Barr: Matt Sellers lives in Beulah, east of Pueblo. On the night of October 24, Sellers was home, just wasting time on Facebook. And then a surprising announcement came in from a friend. The aurora borealis was shining there. But Sellers didn’t really believe it - until...  

Matt Sellers: Someone else from Arkansas mentioned seeing it. And that’s when I went out and looked.

Barr: Sure enough, there it was. The northern lights, glowing red in the sky, directly above Pueblo, Colorado.

Sellers: It looked like if you were standing at the bottom of waterfall. And taking a picture of it. It looked like a red still picture of a waterfall. 

Barr: Sellers was thrilled. A few years back, he drove clear across Oklahoma to try and catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis. But no dice. So he’d sort of given up hope of seeing it.

Sellers: Something I’ve always wanted to see at least once in my life.  Figured I wouldn’t ever because of where we live. How rare they are down there. I mean people who have lived up in Beulah they’re whole lives that had never seen it before.

Barr: To learn about what causes the aurora borealis, and why we might see it again this weekend, I called up Stan Solomon. He’s a senior scientist at NCAR in Boulder.

To see a video of the aurora borealis from the International Space Station, click here.