Home If you missed the Northern Lights Friday, you might have another chance to view them
Climate, Virginia

If you missed the Northern Lights Friday, you might have another chance to view them

Northern Lights
Northern Lights captured on the Parkway in Virginia by Carson Fife (May 10, 2024)

The sky was lit up last night across Virginia as Northern Lights known as auroras painted with shades of pink, purple, green and blue.

In the Shenandoah Valley, photographs of the phenomenon started filling social media feeds as early as 9 p.m. Many people who saw the lights said it was a dream come true as seeing the lights in Virginia is rare.

“There was a spectacular display of the Northern Lights last night not just locally but across a large part of the United States, including some of the southern states which is highly unusual,” said Thomas Kines, a senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.

If you missed the solar storm Friday night, you could catch it again tonight.

“It looks like there will be another display tonight, probably before midnight and maybe even after midnight,” Kines said. “Clouds might be an issue, especially early tonight. If we are lucky, there will be large breaks in clouds.

“Last night, the display was so vivid that even the locations in the United States that had a fair amount of cloudiness were able to view it.”

The lights are created when energized particles reach the Earth’s magnetic field and interact with gases in the atmosphere creating an unusually strong solar storm.

If you can’t see the auroras with your bare eye, experts suggest looking through a camera lens or taking photos as they may capture the colors.

“The best locations to view it are places that don’t have any “light” pollution especially across the northern half of the sky,” said Kines. “The darker, the better.”

The lights may last through the weekend and possibly into next week.

Experts warned the solar flares could disrupt cell phone signals and other communications, but no interruptions were reported.

Northern Lights
Northern Lights captured on Chatham Road in Waynesboro, Va., by Karen Rosasco (May 10, 2024)

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.