The Northern Lights are seen in parts of the US | ET REALITY

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People from Montana to Missouri reported sightings of the northern lights overnight, as forecasters said the phenomenon also known as the aurora borealis would be visible across a swath of the West and Midwest until dawn Tuesday.

The northern lights get their name from lighting up the sky at higher latitudes. On Monday night, the phenomenon produced red or purple plumes in some places and green and purple spots in others. Colors stained the night sky like glow-in-the-dark strokes of paint.

The National Weather Service office in Glasgow, Montana, published images of the northern lights taken by its staff. Other social media users reported sightings in Indiana, Oklahoma, the upper Midwest and beyond.

The Weather Service office in Duluth, Minnesota, said in X, formerly Twitter, that the aurora would be visible for several hours overnight across much of Northland, a term that generally refers to northeastern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin. Eric Snitil, chief meteorologist at television station WROC in Rochester, New York, said in X that overnight conditions in western New York State looked “encouraging.”

Sometimes the northern lights are only visible with the help of a camera. But Tyler Schlitt, a part-time photographer who lives near St. Louis, said by phone that they were already “highly visible” to the naked eye in part of eastern Missouri on Monday night.

“Some people will confuse it with clouds or something,” Schlitt, 32, said from a field near the town of Elsberry, Missouri. “But if you have a good aurora show, you’ll probably see the aurora.”

The Space Weather Prediction Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said earlier this week that a “moderate” geomagnetic storm was expected in the northern United States from Monday to Tuesday. Early Tuesday morning, saying in a new notice that “strong“Geomagnetic activity was occurring.

“The aurora can be seen from Pennsylvania, Iowa and Oregon,” the notice said.

Space weather experts measure geomagnetic disturbances in a five level scale which predicts minor, moderate, strong, severe and extreme effects on power grids, satellites and other things. The higher the storm level G, the further south the northern lights tend to be visible. In a severe or extreme disturbance, they can be seen as far south as Florida, said William Murtagh, program coordinator for the Space Weather Prediction Center.

Murtagh said in an email after 2 a.m. ET on Tuesday that while the worst of the latest disturbance had likely passed, it would likely continue to produce auroras visible to the naked eye over some northern states.

A project manager at the center, Lt. Bryan R. Brasher, said “unstable and active levels of geomagnetic activity” would likely persist through Wednesday. But he said the aurora was unlikely to be visible as far south on Tuesday night as it had been on Monday night.

Schlitt, the Missouri photographer, said by phone around 11 p.m. Monday that the red pillars he saw earlier that night had since vanished. He had a 90-minute drive home and an early work day ahead of him, he said, so he planned to pack soon, unless the colors on his camera screen suddenly intensified.

“If I see a bunch, I’ll stay out a little later,” he said.

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