Fox News Weather Center

PHOTOS: Northern Lights, NASA Rocket Launch Capture Onlookers With Spectacular Display

Between a NASA rocket launch and the northern lights, sky-watchers were treated to dazzling displays Wednesday night.

A powerful burst of solar wind interacted with the Earth's atmosphere and triggered a geomagnetic storm, which led to a stunning display of northern lights Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.

"Much of the northern tier of the country was cloud-free Wednesday night, providing ideal viewing conditions for the northern lights," AccuWeather Meteorologist Becky Elliot said.

Some areas in Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and Michigan missed out on the glowing event due to cloud cover.

Aurora Borealis Lights up Skies Over Northern UK

Before illuminating skies in the United States and Canada, the aurora borealis was visible in parts of Europe.

A NASA sounding rocket successfully launched Wednesday evening from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The launch created a colorful vapor cloud that could be seen in parts of Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

As part of the flight, NASA ejected barium and strontium to form a vapor cloud for wind, ionosphere and auroral studies.

The primary mission of the sub-orbital flight was to test the motor capabilities on the two-stage Black Brant rocket, NASA said.

Content contributed by AccuWeather Staff Writer Mark Leberfinger