Normally dark skies were lit up with a vibrant display of colors on Friday night as the northern lights, or aurora borealis, dipped unusually far south.
A stronger-than-normal corneal mass ejection (CME), or a cloud of charged particles from the sun, reached the earth's atmosphere around midday Friday, setting the stage for rare nighttime treat for some.
Due to its strength, folks who typically miss out on these spectacular displays because of their location were able to be counted as part of the audience on Friday night.
Locations from the Pacific Northwest to the central Plains, as far south as Nebraska and Iowa, and across the Great Lakes and Northeast, were able to catch a glimpse of the colors.
The northern lights are seen everyday at high latitudes. However, they are more noticeable and enhanced when the sun fires out a stronger burst of charged particles.
These particles excite atoms and molecules of Earth's atmospheric gases, primarily oxygen and nitrogen. As the molecules return to their normal state, they release energy in the form of light, typically blue, green and red, depending on the gas.
AccuWeather.com has compiled some great photos from Friday night of the colorful display. Make sure to tweet @BreakingWeather your picture or post it on the AccuWeather.com Astronomy Facebook page.
View from 1hr ago! MT @WXKnapper: Happening NOW @MWObservatory! #nh #aurora #AuroraBorealis #mwobs #mountain #vista pic.twitter.com/17Bqct1RP4— MWObs (@MWObservatory) September 13, 2014
Check out these #aurora photos from the @NWSGray Maine office! pic.twitter.com/jHwfwJz42B— NWS Boston (@NWSBoston) September 13, 2014
Beautiful #aurora are coming back. A welcome return indeed! pic.twitter.com/8LG7FACAFP— Reid Wiseman (@astro_reid) September 12, 2014
Some content of this story was contributed by Michael Kuhne, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer.