John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The northern lights look cool enough from below, but what about above?
Seen from the ground, the aurora borealis is a mighty sight—like being slapped in the eyes with a writhing rainbow. But glimpsed from space the vision is also top-rate, in this case painting America with ghostly streams of light.
The Suomi NPP satellite took the above image around 2:40 a.m. ET on Wednesday as a powerful coronal mass ejection buffeted the atmosphere. During this so-called St. Patrick's Day Geomagnetic Storm, snaking emanations sometimes dipped below the Canadian border to caress Minnesota, North Dakota, and Illinois. Scott Bachmeier of the University of Wisconsin-Madison tweeted this view of the spectral invasion:
Of course, the folks on the International Space Station also had balcony seats:
Because it would be mean not to show what it looked like to us land-mammals, here are views from across the Northern Hemisphere: