Aurora Borealis Lights Up Texas Panhandle Again

Aurora Borealis
Aurora Borealis | Image by Dirk Schoenfuss/Shutterstock

For lucky residents of the Texas Panhandle, Sunday night brought a rare sight of dancing waves of color across the horizon.

The dazzling sight on April 23 was actually preceded by another colored light show on the evening of March 24. This thus marks two rare sightings of the phenomenon known as the aurora borealis in two months.

Also referred to as the northern lights, the aurora borealis is typically only seen by those residing approximately 1,550 miles from the North Pole, per Space.

While spectacularly beautiful to behold, the aurora borealis is actually just visible proof that the Earth’s magnetic field is doing its job to protect us from solar emissions.

Energized particles that hit the field at speeds of up to 45 million mph are redirected to the north and south poles. The chemicals in the Earth’s atmosphere result in the bright colors of the aurora borealis.

Strong activity from the sun can cause the phenomenon to move further south, and this is precisely why the Texas Panhandle and other lands beyond the typical auroral zone bore witness to the display.

As Dr. David Craig explained to the Amarillo Globe-News, the sun’s magnetic field has entered a less active phase, which occurs every 11 years.

“When that happens, you get more solar flares, where you have particles ejected out into space, you get more sunspots, and the earth is sort of linked to the sun by its magnetic field,” said Craig, who is an associate professor of physics at West Texas A&M University, said, per The Amarillo Globe-News.

The good news is that sightings of the aurora borealis might become more likely for those residing further south.

The bad news is that there are a whole lot of variables at play as to whether the colored lights will dance across your horizon.

Wesley Luginbyhl, a photographer based in Amarillo, told the Amarillo Globe-News that he had been trying to view the aurora borealis for about a decade.

“I drove all the way up to central Kansas before to try to see them and came up with absolutely nothing,” Luginbyhl explained, per the Amarillo Globe-News. “I’ve seen them twice now. It’s 99.9% luck.”

Luginbyhl’s photos have garnered thousands of views on social media.

If you want to try your luck at spotting the aurora borealis, try checking out the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 30-minute forecast tool.

It might give you a rough idea of when the colored flares will light up the skies in your neck of the woods.

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