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Northern Lights From Space: Earth Image of the Week July 20, 2012
NIght visible light image of Aurora on July 15.
Ribbons of bright light from the Aurora Borealis light up the skies across the northern Great Plains, Great Lakes and southern Canada early on July 15, 2012.
One of the strongest types of storms that can occur on the sun sent a blast of charged particles bombarding Earth’s atmosphere early on July 15, triggering brilliant aurora displays.

The image to the right shows a small portion of the Northern Lights as seen along the U.S.-Canadian border at 1:33 a.m. Central Daylight Time on Sunday.

It was captured by a visible wavelength imager on a NASA satellite in polar orbit.

Other than the bright lights of the cities clearly visible beneath clear skies across the region, almost all of the remaining illumination seen in the image came from the aurora borealis.

Some of the more expansive light areas in the left and upper right were clouds being lit up by the aurora, 60 to 200 miles above.

A few of the smaller bright dots in parts of eastern Manitoba and western Ontario came from the flames of wildfires that were burning on the ground.

The solar storm responsible for the ribbons of aurora light came from an X Class solar flare that erupted from the sun, peaking on July 12, 2012.

The resulting coronal mass ejection traveled the 93 million miles to earth at over 850 miles per second, according to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado.

Full story and image: CIMSS