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aurora borealis

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One of the biggest solar flares so far this year unleashed a strong geomagnetic storm Thursday that painted night skies with the shimmering hues of the Northern Lights. The wavering aurora light is caused by the electromagnetic interplay between the speeding particles of a coronal mass ejection from the sun and the Earth’s magnetic field. These solar flares are expected to increase in the months ahead as the sun ramps up to its solar maximum, which is expected to peak in late 2013.


Truckers left the paths of their tail lights below the bright night sky as they drove along the ice road on Prosperous Lake near Yellowknife, North West Territories on Thursday. (Bill Braden, The Canadian Press/Associated Press)


The Northern Lights were visible near Fáskrúðsfjörður on the east coast of Iceland, left, and near Yellowknife, North West Territories, right. (Jonina Oskardottir/Associated Press, left; Bill Braden, The Canadian Press/Associated Press, right)


The aurora borealis near Yellowknife, North West Territories. (Bill Braden, The Canadian Press/Associated Press)


The sky glowed over power lines at mile 9 on the Old Glenn Highway near Butte, Alaska. (Oscar Edwin Avellaneda/Reuters)

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A riot of color in the night sky above the Arctic Circle gave local photographers a spectacular light show this September. Sometimes called the aurora borealis, the northern lights are caused by streams of particle-charged solar winds that hit the Earth’s magnetic field, causing hues of green and pink to shimmer against the backdrop of the stars. This year, professional and amateur photographers were able to capture the lights in more southerly latitudes than usual. Herewith, a small sampling of what they saw.

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