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Aurora Borealis Appears as Far South as New Mexico

The Northern Lights, usually relegated to near the Arctic Circle, paid the U.S. a visit on October 24.

The aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, generally stay, well, north—up near the Arctic Circle, in fact. But on October 24 they paid lower Turtle Island a rare visit, appearing in a spectacular show as far south as Alabama and New Mexico.

Usually most visible at the spring and fall equinoxes, the spectacular undulating light show sometimes surprises. As if the celestial wonder of the Orionid Meteor Shower on October 22 weren't enough, a sunstorm's cosmic particles hit the earth's magnetic field just when most of the U.S. was getting dark or already so, the U.S. National Weather Service Space Weather Prediction Center said on its site. It came from a "Coronal Mass Ejection" on Saturday October 22, the weather prediction center said, meaning that debris from a geomagnetic storm was released, hitting the earth's atmosphere on Monday. Clear skies didn't hurt the view.

"Unfortunately for sky watchers, the geomagnetic storm appears to be in decline and no further significant space weather is expected at this time," the prediction center said.

For those who were not able to catch the show, these videos will give you a flavor. And here is a bit of lore on the Northern Lights and their significance in various Native cultures.

This is a news report from western New York State.

And here are some shots taken by a Michigan man.

And here's why it all happens.