John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Blood-red emanations were recently visible as far south as West Virginia.
Early Wednesday morning North Americans were treated to waves of intense light shimmering across the heavens. “When we thought it was over, the sky exploded around 3:30 like we have never seen,” one witness said of an aurora borealis that cast a blood-red hue as far south as West Virginia. Other camera-toting watchers described the kaleidoscopic display as “wild,” “vivid and very active,” and, simply, “WOW!!”
From the cold reaches of space the sights were just as superb. Shown above is the view from the Suomi NPP satellite as auroras tickled the U.S.-Canadian border around 4 a.m. Here’s a blown-up shot:
The University of Wisconsin-Madison also scrounged up these impressive snaps of the ghostly auras confronting America’s city lights:
The swirling emanations were the result of a crack in the planet’s magnetosphere letting in solar wind, causing moderately powerful geomagnetic storms. There’s a chance that more storming might have occurred last night; check out Spaceweather for the latest documentation of this dreamy phenomenon.