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10 Stunning Photos of Rare Northern Lights (And How to Take Your Own)

Science

The northern half of the U.S. is in for a rare treat this week. The Northern Lights will be visible across much of the upper parts of the country, according to Accuweather.

Typically, in North America, you have to be in Canada or Alaska to catch a glimpse of this spectacular planetary light show. But due to a "huge solar storm," stargazers from New Hampshire to Nebraska might see the show tonight. Unfortunately, the skies in the Pacific Northwest and Canada will probably be too cloudy to have a good view, says Accuweather.

Here are the keys to catching a glimpse (and a photo) of the Aurora borealis, according to Accuweather:

  • If you're in an area where the clouds are not obstructing your view of the night sky, you may still have to do more than stepping into your back yard to see the aurora.

  • Being in a dark area with a clear view of the northern horizon is key to seeing the aurora. If you are trying to catch a glimpse of the aurora, you should travel to a spot that is far away from the light pollution given off by cities and towns.

  • Being in a dark area is also important if you are trying to capture a picture of the northern lights. For the best results, you should use a camera that allows to you take pictures with an exposure of 10 to 30 seconds.

And if you're wondering what the heck you're looking at, the Northern Lights are caused by "collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere," explains the Northern Lights Centre in Canada. "The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are known as 'Aurora borealis' in the north and 'Aurora australis' in the south."

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And even if you don't end up seeing the Northern Lights, you might catch the Taurids meteor shower. The meteor shower "will last into the middle of November, producing roughly five to 10 meteors per hour," says Accuweather. The Taurids are known for the brightness—sometimes shining even brighter than Venus, the third brightest object in the sky.

"The gradual peak of the shower is now through Nov. 12, with a possible absolute peak on the night of Nov. 11," reports AccuWeather Meteorologist Dave Samuhel.

And if you can't see anything, you can always watch super cool YouTube videos of the sun like you've never seen it before, this breathtaking time lapse video of the night sky or this amazing video of Yellowstone by moonlight.

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