Residents of Southern Ontario were treated to a breathtaking display of the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, on Saturday night.
The natural phenomenon, which is caused by solar particles colliding with the Earth’s magnetic field, illuminated the night sky with an array of vivid colours, such as green, red, and purple.
The rare sight was visible across much of Southern Ontario due to a strong solar storm, which had a K-index of 7 out of 9.
The K-index is a measure of geomagnetic activity, with higher values indicating stronger solar storms. This strong solar storm created ideal conditions for the Northern Lights to be visible at lower latitudes than usual.
Aurora enthusiasts and photographers alike flocked to areas with minimal light pollution, such as parks and rural locations, to capture the mesmerizing display. Social media platforms were flooded with spectacular images and videos of the event, showcasing the brilliant hues of the aurora.
The Northern Lights, which are typically visible at higher latitudes, are a result of charged particles from the sun interacting with the Earth’s atmosphere.
When these particles collide with the gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, they produce a glow that can be seen as the Northern or Southern Lights, depending on the hemisphere.
Dr. Gordon Osinski, a professor at Western University’s Institute for Earth and Space Exploration, explained that the aurora’s visibility in Southern Ontario was due to a combination of factors, including the strength of the solar storm and the Earth’s magnetic field orientation.
According to Dr. Osinski, the Northern Lights’ appearance in Southern Ontario is quite rare, as the region usually experiences mild geomagnetic activity. He also mentioned that the best time to view the aurora is during the equinoxes, when the Earth’s magnetic field is optimally aligned with the solar wind.
For those who missed the spectacular light show, the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) offers real-time aurora forecasts, which can help individuals plan for optimal viewing opportunities.