Northern Lights and peak of Lyrids Meteor Shower in the Tri-State Sunday night: NOAA

The night sky was full of a lot more than stars Sunday

ByAlexandra George WABC logo
Monday, April 24, 2023
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If you looked up at the night sky late Sunday and early Monday, you might have caught a glimpse of the Northern Lights in our area.

Connecticut, New Jersey and New York were all in reach of the Aurora Borealis Sunday night because of a Severe Geomagnetic Storm.

The storm was first enacted by a solar flare that erupted on the sun Friday afternoon.

A solar flare is an explosion on the surface of the sun that emits a burst of electromagnetic radiation.

The explosion expelled "a billion tons of superheated magnetized gas from the sun," according to NOAA. That gas is referred to as plasma.

The burst of plasma then interacts with Earth's atmosphere, generating colorful lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis.

The Aurora Borealis is seen in the Northern Hemisphere, and the Aurora Australis is seen in the Southern Hemisphere.

The plasma ejection reached Earth in two days, and caused a Severe Geomagnetic Storm, a level four out of five on NOAA's scale.

According to NOAA, "The Geomagnetic Storm arrived earlier and was much stronger than expected."'

Geomagnetic storms can cause irregularities to the power grid and radio communications. But if and when they last into the evening hours, they can cause the Aurora Borealis to become visible in regions it would otherwise not be.

The Lyrids Meteor Shower was also expected to peak on Sunday night. So, while you were out looking for the Northern Lights, you may have seen some shooting stars as well.

In order to get the best view of sky sights, it is important to avoid city lights.

According to NOAA, the northern lights were visible in some parts of the following states from 10 p.m. local time to 2 a.m. local time:

  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming