The sun got into the Saint Patrick’s Day act by hurling a coronal mass ejection (CME) straight at Mother Earth a couple of days earlier. It hurtled toward us at 900 miles per second, according to NASA, and when it slammed into the magnetosphere, the explosion was green.
The impact caused a moderate geomagnetic storm that sent Kelly-green northern lights flashing and dancing all the way south to Colorado, Spaceweather.com reported. Turtle Island’s photographers were ready.
“The aurora kicked in after midnight and continued until dawn with reasonably clear skies through most of it with the exception of about an hour of clouds,” wrote Rocky Babell of Keller, Washington, on Komonews.com. “This is the first time I've actually been able to see the light reflected off of the water. The weather guy came through.”
In Colorado the spectacle appeared in the early morning.
"Just after 4 a.m. local time, the skies turned green and red behind the twin stone monoliths of Rabbit Ears Peak near Steamboat Springs, Colorado," wrote photographer and astronomy professor Jimmy Westlake to Spaceweather.com.
The aurora borealis also appeared as far south as New York State, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Michigan and the Dakotas, Spaceweather.com reported.
“The show's not over,” Spaceweather.com said. “Geomagnetic storming is under way as Earth passes through the wake of the CME. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras."
Photo: Allen Snowdon via Spaceweather.com
Saint Patrick's Day aurora borealis above Gibsons, British Columbia, Canada.
Photo: Rocky Raybell/Flickr
Northern Lights appear over Keller, Washington.
Photo: John Dean via Spaceweather.com
Aurora borealis over Nome, Alaska, on March 17, 2013
Photo: David Ruzicka via Spaceweather.com
Irish Northern Lights over Coldfoot, Alaska
Photo: Scott Weberpal via Spaceweather.com
Taken at Allenton, Wisconsin, on March 17, 2013
Photo: Christy Olson-Groppel via Spaceweather.com
Delta Junction Alaska, on March 17, 2013
Photo: Jimmy Westlake via Spaceweather.com
Just the merest hint of green in this shot from Rabbit Ears Pass near Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Photo: John Carlson via Spaceweather.com
Rabbit Ears Pass near Steamboat Springs, Colorado on March 17, 2013