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Northern Lights Seen in DeKalb
Northern Lights

No, that wasn’t a forest fire you might have seen on the northern horizon last weekend. If you noticed an eerie sky, you most likely witnesses something that is very rare among the southern United States; the aurora borealis, or better known as the Northern Lights.

The auroras were visible last Friday night and into the weekend due to increased solar activity. A series of solar flares and coronal mass projections from the sun, bounced off the Earth’s atmosphere, causing the rare display.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center, the red and purple lights could be seen from Maine to California, and as far south as Florida on Friday and Saturday.

The Space Weather Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service, observed conditions of an extreme geomagnetic storm at 6:54 p.m. ET on Friday evening, reaching a level 5 out of 5 severities. The last time a solar storm of this magnitude reached Earth was in October 2003, resulting in power outages in Sweden and damaged power transformers in South Africa, according to the center.

As the sun nears the peak of activity in its 11-year cycle, known as solar maximum, later this year, researchers have observed increasingly intense solar flares erupting from the fiery orb.

“Therefore, people wanting to see the aurora should keep checking our webpage and social media presence for news/updates of a new CME arrival,” Dahl said in a statement to CNN.