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Auroral Spectacular Delights Even Southerners October 28, 2011
Aurora borealis
Auroral sheets of red, purple and green shimmering above Odda, Norway, on Monday evening.
Earth’s geomagnetic field burst into a breathtaking display of color Monday night, treating people as far south as Atlanta to the Northern Lights.

The auroras were seen widely around the world, unusually far away from their usual confines around the Arctic and Antarctic.

Such displays typically occur only about once per decade under clear skies.

The latest was caused by a massive solar storm that sent a burst of charged particles smashing into Earth’s upper atmosphere and magnetic field.

“Wow, wow, wow! These were the best Northern Lights I've seen since 2004,” skywatcher Shawn Malone told Spaceweather.com.

Many observers in the Southern and Midwestern United States noted how red the aurora were this time.

All-red auroras occur about 200 to 300 miles above Earth’s surface, meaning they can be seen much farther south than the greenish glows that shimmer around the poles. Their dynamics are not entirely understood.

Photo: Dag Endre Opedal - Flickr