Witnessing the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, is a breathtaking experience that attracts stargazers from all over the world. And while Iceland and Alaska are often considered the go-to destinations for catching a glimpse of this stunning natural phenomenon, the recent sighting in Minnesota has shown that you don’t have to travel far to witness the mesmerizing light show in the night sky.
Becky Strohmeier, the founder of the Twin Cities Aurora Chasers Facebook group, has been chasing the Aurora Borealis for the past three years. But on Thursday night, she witnessed the most spectacular light show in the night sky so far. “It’s just a fun chase and you get a beautiful reward at the end. It was amazing. I have been freaking out all day about it, looking at pictures. Just seeing the response from people around. It’s like everybody in the whole state could see it,”
Stargazers all over Minnesota are still buzzing about the brilliant images they captured of the Northern Lights, from the North Shore to Albert Lea. Despite the light pollution in the Twin Cities, the solar flares that caused the Northern Lights were so intense that they created the perfect storm to make the swirling lights visible, even in the metro area.
According to FOX 9 meteorologist Jennifer McDermed, “the reason why it was so vivid last night is because this was the strongest geomagnetic storm we’ve seen in about six years and we had very clear skies.” This created the perfect conditions for stargazers like Doug Cottrell from Hudson, Wisconsin, who took more than 500 photos of the celestial showstoppers at Boulder Lake, about 30 minutes north of Duluth. “It was an out of this world experience. If you ever want to feel like you’re in space or anything like that, that is what you need to do,” said Cottrell, a member of the Great Lakes Aurora Hunters Facebook group.
All of the pictures taken by Strohmeier, Cottrell, and many others illuminate the beauty and boldness of the cosmos. The Northern Lights are caused by charged particles from the sun colliding with the Earth’s atmosphere. These collisions release energy in the form of light, creating the stunning colors and patterns that dance across the sky.
While it may be rare to witness such a spectacular display in the metro area, there are still plenty of opportunities to see the Northern Lights in Minnesota. Many Aurora hunters check the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to find out when and where they might be able to see the Northern Lights. The NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center provides daily updates on the likelihood of auroral activity, making it easier for stargazers to plan their Aurora Borealis sightings.
In addition to checking the NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, stargazers can also visit some of Minnesota’s top Aurora viewing spots. The North Shore, for example, is one of the best places in the state to see the Northern Lights. The region is known for its rugged beauty, which includes rocky cliffs, pristine lakes, and dense forests. Visitors can also take a scenic drive along the North Shore Scenic Drive, which offers breathtaking views of Lake Superior and the surrounding wilderness.
Another popular spot for Aurora hunting is Voyageurs National Park, located in northern Minnesota. The park is situated along the Canadian border, which means that it is one of the few places in the United States where you can see the Northern Lights from a latitude that is similar to Iceland and Norway. Visitors can rent a houseboat or take a guided tour to explore the park’s lakes, islands, and forests while keeping an eye out for the Aurora Borealis.