NewsU.S. and the World


Northern Lights put on a dazzling show

Aurora Borealis seen from Cut Bank on October 12, 2021
Posted at 2:24 PM, Oct 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-12 16:24:32-04

Vivid green strands of light danced across the night sky over the Canadian province of Alberta early on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.

The Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, were visible due to the impact of a coronal mass ejection (CME) on Monday, October 11.

According to NASA, CMEs are formed from clouds of solar plasma combined with embedded magnetic fields, which are released into space following a solar eruption.

The lights were also seen in skies across the U.S. and the UK overnight, thanks to the solar storm.

Bill Gobert shared this photo with MTN that he shot near Cut Bank:

Aurora Borealis seen from Cut Bank on October 12, 2021
Aurora Borealis seen from Cut Bank on October 12, 2021

Twitter user OhNoNotPatrick in Alberta, Canada, captured this image:

Two good resources for knowing when the Aurora Borealis might be visible in our area are the Space Weather Prediction Center and Soft Serve News.

Jim Thomas, the operator of Soft Serve News, posts frequent updates to let people know how likely it is that the Northern Lights may be visible.

Thomas also notes: "Experienced Northern Lights hunters are familiar with disappointment. Predictions of when the CME cloud or a high speed solar wind stream hits the earth are not always accurate. Sometimes CME events produce much smaller displays than expected, or even none at all. Even with these uncertainties, seeing the grandeur of a powerful Aurora Borealis display may be a once in a lifetime event, so for some it's worth the gamble to try."

Here is a video highlighting viewer photos of the Northern Lights seen in Montana several years ago: