Auroral Ring from Space

December 02, 2003


Provided by: Earth Observatory, NASA GSFC
Summary authors & editors: Earth Observatory; Jim Foster

This nighttime visible satellite image, taken from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellite on October 29/30, 2003, shows not only city lights but the remarkable auroral display, which blazed across a large swath of the mid-latitude region of the Northern Hemisphere. While the northern lights are generally confined to high latitudes, on occasions when powerful solar storms occur, they can be observed near the Gulf of Mexico in North America and the Mediterranean Sea in Europe. On this image, even though the oval-shaped auroral ring circling the globe was nearly overhead observers in northern New England, New York, Michigan, and Wisconsin, northern lights were also visible above the central U.S. (on the northern horizon) to anyone who was fortunate enough to be outside on this colorful night.

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