The Student News Site of Elkhorn South High School

Storm Alert

The Student News Site of Elkhorn South High School

Storm Alert

The Student News Site of Elkhorn South High School

Storm Alert

Nebraskan Northern Lights

Many Nebraskans were lucky enough to be able to view this phenomenal atmospheric event earlier this May.
Nebraskan+Northern+Lights

The northern lights became visible in many states in the US on May 10-11. This was caused by an extreme geomagnetic storm that made them visible much farther south than normal. That meant that you could see them here in Nebraska as well. Normally, the northern lights appear in places much farther south and north so the only state that readily sees them is Alaska. For the next couple of years, the northern lights are going to be particularly strong as the solar maximum is approaching in the solar cycle. The northern lights are truly magnificent to see in person, many say, but after seeing them in person in Nebraska I have some different thoughts.

The gorgeous northern lights are caused by particles from the sun colliding with Earth’s atmosphere at tens of millions miles per hour. However, due to the force of our atmosphere, this does not affect Earth’s inhabitants in any negative way. The magnetic field around the Earth moves these particles towards the poles creating these colorful beams of dancing lights. This transfer of energy particles creates a solar storm. The particles combine with different gases in the atmosphere to create the colors. Oxygen creates the iconic green, which is most common, and also red light. Nitrogen makes the lights look more blue and purple. The most recent one, was a very strong solar storm allowing people farther south to be able to see them.

Here in Nebraska, many were lucky enough to be watching in the write place in the write time to be able to see them. I went about 15 minutes out of the city in a dark field to try to see the lights. At about 11 o’clock at night, we saw a vertical line in the sky and took a photo of it with an iPhone. Using the phone’s exposure feature, we were able to see the amazing colors dancing all around us. Although it was astonishing to see, without the exposure feature or a camera, many people would mistake the lights for simply a cloud. However, due to light pollution and my proximity to the city, I think this definitely played a role in how well I could see them. People who traveled to Western Nebraska seemed to be able to see more of the vibrant colors with the naked eye. Despite not being able to see the lights very well without a camera, I still would recommend taking the time to travel to see these amazing lights.

If you are interested in seeing the northern lights in their entirety, I would recommend traveling closer to the poles. Many are able to view the lights in Alaska and others choose to take the trip outside of the country to places like Sweden or Iceland. No matter what, if you get a chance to see the northern lights, consider yourself lucky. Whether you can see it with the naked eye or with a camera, it is truly amazing. 

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About the Contributor
Ellen Bode
Ellen Bode, Reporter
Hey! My name is Ellen and I am a sophomore here at South. This is my first year as a reporter for the Storm Alert and I really enjoy writing pieces about sports and storm life. I am so excited to work with this amazing team to create some of our best issues yet!

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