A series of solar flares that left the Sun on Monday collided with the Earth’s upper atmosphere on Tuesday night, giving residents from the Arctic to Australia a spectacular light show.
The aurora is common in extreme northern and southern latitudes. But this particular solar storm was so energetic that people as far south as Detroit witnessed its shimmering brilliance.
The Southern Lights were visible to residents of Queensland in Australia — a rarity that brought out some spectacular photos on twitter.
— Australia Trends (@australizer) March 18, 2015
Missed the best of it, but our good friend Aurora Australis made a return to Wgtn last night pic.twitter.com/EsnGSXaR8P
— Danny Rood (@De_Rood) March 17, 2015
Green is the most common color for the aurora, as particles moving down the axis of the planet’s electromagnetic field excite the atoms in oxygen in the lower atmosphere. The purple aurora happens when the particles come in contact with nitrogen. And the reds occur when oxygen in the upper altitudes is hit.