British Columbia·Photos

Northern lights dazzle in Vancouver after unusual solar flares

Vancouverites caught a rare glimpse of the northern lights on Monday night, due to an unusually strong solar storm on the surface of the sun.

Photographers were treated to a rare display of aurora borealis Monday night

Vancouverites caught a rare glimpse of the northern lights on Monday night, due to an unusually strong solar storm on the surface of the sun.

The northern lights, also known as aurora borealis, are created by solar flares on the sun's surface that create gusts of solar winds that pass through the Earth's atmosphere causing particles to emit the brilliant colours.

They are normally not visible so far south of the North Pole, but the stronger the solar flare, the further south the northern lights can be seen.

UBC astronomy professor Jaymie Matthews says on Sunday, there was an unusually strong flare — and this is a good year to see the northern lights.

"The sun has a flare cycle that's 11 years. We are near the peak of the solar cycle, so this is a good time to see the aurora."

By Monday, the solar winds had reached Earth and were creating a fantastic light show across Canada, the U.K. and around the world.

The lights were also visible in the southern hemisphere, where they are called aurora australis, or southern lights.

If you missed Monday night's show, don't worry. The northern lights will likely be visible in Vancouver again on Tuesday night, according to Matthews. 

"There are still probably particles that are sweeping over us now. There's a good chance that tonight would also be an enhanced aurora show."


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