As the sun awakens from a dormant phase, NASA this week announced a coronal mass ejection that has led to a set of particularly dramatic aurorae viewable by millions of people as far south as Wisconsin and Iowa.
The larger than normal solar flare fired toward the Earth has resulted in an atmospheric geomagnetic storm, casting a brilliant aurora across Earth's skies.
Colliding with atoms of nitrogen and oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere, these ionized atoms are propelled into our skies, casting a brilliant glow of green and red neon light.
Normally associated with Canada and Alaska, the strange aurorae has been visible this week to millions of observers around the world.
Bryan Hansel took this picture of the northern lights in northeastern Minnesota. He explains: "A coronal mass ejection hit Earth's magnetic field, causing a G2-class geomagnetic storm. Between 11 and 12 p.m. Tuesday, the storm resulted in a display of northern lights. I captured this picture over Elbow Lake, which is up the Gunflint Trail from Grand Marais."
The charged particles, traveling 93 million miles from the sun at 1,000 kilometers per second, are deflected away by the Earth's magnetic field, resulting in the colorful display of eerie ambient light known as an aurora.
Jesper Grønne captured this vibrant view of sweeping green light, taken in Denmark on August 4.
A brilliant yellow and green image from Trym Norman Sannes, taken with his Canon EOD 7D, sigma 10-20mm f4-5.6 and tripod. Settings used were: f-stop f/5, shutter speed of 25 seconds, focal length 10mm, auto white balance, and ISO 1600.
Shannon Lutman, just back from five days at her cottage in Michigan, captured these images on August 3. This 106-second exposure was captured at 3:30 a.m. before the morning fog rolled in.
/ Photo: Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lutman123/">lutman123</a>
The sun awakes
Trym Norman Sannes
Beautiful green dancing auroras
Aurora Borealis over Lake Wissota
Again on August 3
Aurora shot over Mitchell Lake
St Germain, Wisc.
Trym Norman Sannes aurora
Trym Norman Sannes
Olivier Du Tre
A brilliant swath of green
The aurora borealis over Lake Wissota in Chippewa Falls, Wis., taken by Tony Wilder. Tony captured these shots with a Canon 30D on a tripod manually focused to infinity at f2.8, ISO 400 for 20 seconds at around 2 a.m. August 3.