Skywatchers across Ontario were treated to a vivid display of the northern lights overnight Thursday into Friday morning, and social media has lit up with otherworldly photos of this rare local occurrence of the aurora borealis.
The colourful night skies seen in areas stretching as far south as Colorado and New Mexico came courtesy of a geomagnetic storm caused by the sun.
Unedited in #Brussels, Ontario 11:20pm #NorthernLights pic.twitter.com/UcZLfDdRhr
— Justin M (@JustinMWeather) March 24, 2023
It was hailed as the strongest solar storm in six years, which increased the span and intensity of the phenomenon, typically limited to far-northern latitudes.
80km north of #Toronto @AuroraNotify #AuroraNotify @AuroraAlerts #AuroraAlerts @blogTO @weatherchannel #Aurora #NorthernLights #AuroraBorealis pic.twitter.com/pJSM9j20yG
— Avinography (@Avinography) March 24, 2023
According to The Weather Network, the intense auroras were bolstered by a coronal hole, described as “a gigantic gap in the solar atmosphere, which lies exposed to space due to an opening in the Sun’s magnetic fields.”
“While the solar wind flows like a calm breeze from other regions of the Sun, this gap emits a blustering gale by comparison.”
The phenomenon made for some beautiful skies above London, Ontario.
Ummmmmmmmmmmm WHAT!!!!? NORTHERN LIGHTS MOVING ALMOST OVERHEAD OF LONDON AIRPORT! #ldnont #AuroraBorealis #northernlights @southernon_wx @flyingdutchwx @isabel_ONwx @woostorms @flyyxu @navcanada pic.twitter.com/sblWAapuhn
— David Piano (@ONwxchaser) March 24, 2023
And out in Huron County.
Last night’s Northern Lights display in Huron County, Ontario. pic.twitter.com/vXbc6AFj8B
— Jason O’Young (@jasonoyoung) March 15, 2023
Cottage-goers out in Muskoka got quite the show.
Northern Lights Right Now in Muskoka Ontario Canada @AuroraNotify @OntarioParks @Muskoka411 @NorthLightAlert pic.twitter.com/pIHsLHKuQL
— José Roberto Alves de Sous (@jbaszoo) March 24, 2023
Lights danced in the night sky for Bowmanville residents, too.
Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) north of Bowmanville, Ontario.#AuroraBorealis @StormhunterTWN pic.twitter.com/6CKWoFrsqW
— Brian Connolly (@bconnolly00) March 24, 2023
If you slept through last night’s aurora display, there are still places you can visit to see the northern lights in Ontario, even if there’s no huge solar storm in the forecast.