Northern lights put on a show outside of town
MEKINOCK, N.D.—Veronica Harrison headed out of Grand Forks Sunday night searching for the northern lights and ended up in a rural cornfield somewhere near Mekinock. Coyotes were howling nearby and bright orange and green lights dancing above her.
"It was really pretty," she said. "Usually you can only see green lights, but there was actually some orange that night, too."
The natural phenomenon is caused by energy from the sun interacting with gasses in Earth's upper atmosphere, National Weather Service Meteorologist Carl Jones said. The energy excites the gasses and creates different colors.
The lights are more visible as you get closer to the North or South poles, though Grand Forks is far enough north that they are sometimes visible, Jones said. The best way to see the lights is to get away from the city and heavily-lit areas, Jones said.
Compared to the rest of the country, the Grand Forks area sees the northern lights a decent amount, though it's difficult to predict when they will show up, Jones said. Predicting the events is still a relatively new science, though meteorologists can track when there are holes in the sun's atmosphere, which will push out higher winds that can take two to three days to travel to Earth and interact with our atmosphere and magnetic field to produce northern lights, he said.
Harrison said she subscribed to an email alert from cdn.softservenews.com/Aurora.htm to find out when there might be northern lights nearby.