Incredible Video of the Northern Lights Seen Over Bismarck
In case you missed this on the night of Memorial Day, the Northern Lights were in full view over Bismarck.
ABC News posted a video to Facebook, which was submitted by Scott Eisenbeisz of the amazing time-lapse taken on Monday night.
The Northern Lights, also known as the 'aurora borealis,' are typically seen during the winter and spring time when there is considerably less cloud coverage than other times of the year. The prime spot in North America to view the lights are in the Canada's Northwest Territories or Alaska. However, just as recent as last year, the lights were seen as far south in North America as Ohio and Illinois.
In case you're wondering how the Northern Lights are created, here's a quick lesson. Molecules that are high up in the Earth's atmosphere collide with charged particles streaming from the sun, also known as solar winds. Those molecules then reach an excited state and begin to glow.
The color of lights typically seen range from green, yellow, red, purple, and blue. Oxygen creates the red, yellow, and green, while blue and purple come from nitrogen in the air.
Solar winds can create solar storms, which are also known as coronal mass ejections. These coronal mass ejections are what allows the lights to be seen over wide areas.
As for why these lights are typically seen in the north, that would be due to Earth's magnetic field grabbing these solar particles and attracting them to both the north and south pole. The lights over the south pole, known as 'aurora australis' are tough for anyone to see since they typically appear over Antarctica, where no one really lives.
As the time of the year approaches the summer months, it will make for less of a chance to see the lights, as more cloud cover will be abundant. The optimal time of night to view the northern lights is between 10 p.m. and 2 p.m., although they can be seen anytime during nightfall. The viewing time for the lights typically lasts about 30 minutes at a time, after they first appear.
For you skywatchers out there, as 'Star Hustler' Jack Horkheimer used to say, "Keep looking up."