Weather Forecast


Spectacular northern lights show fills the Northland sky

The aurora saved its most colorful act for dawn Sunday, when the moon - along with Jupiter (top) and Venus - rose over Lake Superior as seen from Duluth's Brighton Beach. Details: 24mm lens at f/2.8, ISO 1600 and 5-second exposure. (Bob King /

A geomagnetic storm in the skies above the Northland sparked a spectacular display of the northern lights late Saturday night into early Sunday morning.

The northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, filled the sky with curtains, arcs and rays during several rounds of brilliant displays lasting until the rising sun washed out the show. There was a lot of movement to the lights, with parts of the sky appearing to be liquid at times as green auroral arcs "flowed" from one quadrant of the sky to another.

"The show reminded me of major storms of the past in for its variety of forms, brilliance, duration and even color. Yes, color. Whites and pale greens ruled, but purple-pinks made their appearance around 2:40 a.m. and a vivid 'last hurrah' of pink curtains swept by the moon during twilight," News Tribune photo editor Bob King recounted on his Astro Bob astronomy blog.

"On several occasions it 'felt' like the display was winding up, settling down. You thought maybe you could finally go to bed. Uh ... no. After each lull, the show would regather its momentum and flare to a new peak. Even at 4:30 a.m., curtains billowed in the eastern sky with tall rays, now fading in twilight, still lancing across the northern sky."

To top off the display, the early morning hours brought a second show with the conjunction of the crescent moon, Jupiter, Venus and the star Aldebaran as they rose in the sky, forming a parallelogram.

The northern lights appeared because of a flare ejected several days ago from a massive sunspot on the sun. Will they reappear tonight? Perhaps, although there are never any guarantees with the aurora. NOAA space weather forecasters are predicting a small chance of geomagnetic storms in the sky tonight.

If you want to take a look to see if the northern lights are out, get away from city lights and find a dark place with a clear view to the north. Brighton Beach near Duluth is one location that often works; anywhere north of Duluth toward Island Lake also can be a good place to watch if there's an auroral display under way.