If you see an odd glow in the sky tonight, here’s what it’s called and its cause

You’ve heard of the northern lights? The next few days you may be able to see lights even if you aren’t that far north.

The sun erupted on Sunday, spewing plasma, “a highly ionized gas containing an approximately equal number of positive ions and electrons” right in our direction. There’s no reason to freak out; solar storms are relatively common, and the most significant impact they have on our big blue marble is to possibly disrupt electronics and satellite communications.

When the remnants of the plasma reach our atmosphere, they move towards the magnetic poles and go bang, creating famous and bizarre lights at the poles. The North Pole phenomenon is known as the Aurora Borealis, Greek for “Northern dawn.” The lesser known version of this occurs at the South Pole, called the Aurora Australis.

The burst of super-hot stuff from the sun is called a coronal mass ejection. A corona is more than a beer. The general definition is “a  circle of light seen around a luminous body,” but the sun’s corona is “a faintly luminous envelope outside of the sun’s chromosphere.”

(In related news, what do scientists call a recently-discovered star so big that it practically breaks the scale. Here’s the ginormous answer.)

Tuesday night the auroras (Greek for ”dawn”) were potentially visible as far south as Wisconsin. Anecdotal reports suggest a disappointing lack of red and green glow. Maybe tonight will be more luminous. Let us know if you saw anything last night, and share your experience if you gaze into the sky this evening as well.

Hill People

National Journal March 31, 2007 | Katz, Marisa Scott MulhauMr is not actually from New Jersey. He’s a local, the self-proclaimed “only kid who grew up in Washington without political connections.” But because of his father, a doctor from northern New Jersey, and his mother, a social worker from southern New Jersey, he learned to talk Turnpike exits. It has gotten him jobs with two Democratic senators from the Garden State, first as a spokesman and speechwriter for thenSen. Robert Torrlcelll and now as a senior adviser, counsel, and press-operation director for Frank Lautenberg.

Mulhauser, 31, started in Torricelli’s office in 1997, one White House internship removed from the University of Pennsylvania. He spent the 2000 election cycle in the press shop at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. His toughest assignment: two days to throw together an eight-city Jimmy Buffett tour for now-Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FIa. Next, Mulhauser enrolled in Georgetown University Law Center and signed on as a spokesman and speechwriter for then-Sen. John Breaux, D-La. If you’ve ever wondered whether you can order a hoagie in the land of the po’ boy, “with a little translation, it can be done,” Mulhauser says.

After graduating from Georgetown in 2005, he did a stint at Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll in Philadelphia. But when last November’s election results came in and the phone started ringing, he decided to come back to Washington. “There were years of darkness,” he says. “This was a chance to see things through, to get things done-things that we’d thought about and hoped about and talked about for a long time.” Certainly, talking is something Mulhauser is known for. Around November, he typically loses his voice and jokes about better budgeting for next year. He’ll be talking Turnpike exits a lot for Lautenberg. Where does he come down on Bon Jovl versus Bruce Sprlngsteen? “That’s a trick question,” Mulhauser says. “They’re both like fine wine, to be appreciated in their own way.” -Marisa Katz Tonnie Wybenslngw was tired of moving. She’d had several roommates and several apartments during the course of seven years in Washington. And so, when she decided to leave the Hill to take a job at NASDAQ in New York City, she hired movers. “I told them, ? don’t want to do anything-take everything off the walls, put everything in boxes,’ ” she says. That was only two months ago. Already, the movers are back. After Jason Roe, chief of staff to Rep. Tom Feeney, R-FIa., signed on as deputy campaign manager for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, he went up to New York, took Wybensinger out to dinner, and tried to persuade her to be his successor. It worked. “They’re like family to me,” Wybensinger says. “And, if your family tells you they need you, you don’t usually say no.” Snap decisions are not out of character for Wybensinger, 28. Toward the end of her time at Ohio State University, she announced that she was moving to Washington after graduation. She didn’t have anything lined up. But she’d taken a school trip to D.C. in eighth grade. “Other kids were just happy to be away from their parents,” she says. “I was the person standing in front asking a million questions about how it all worked.” Upon becoming a D.C. resident, she sought out a placement agency, which sent her to an interview with Cassidy & Associates. Although she’d never heard of the lobbying firm, she liked the feel of the office. “It was what I pictured working in Washington looking like,” she recalls. “People were dressed nice, the phones were all ringing, people were running around.” She took a job as an administrative assistant. see here jimmy buffett tour 2011 go to website jimmy buffett tour 2011

From there she landed a spot with then-Rep. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. Since Toomey was running for the Senate, his office stopped filling vacancies and Wybensinger quickly moved up the ladder. “I was a staff assistant for about six days, and then a legislative correspondent for a few months, and then an LA left and I became an LA handling Financial Services Committee issues for him.” When Toomey lost the Senate race, Wybensinger moved over to Feeney’s office, working her way up from legislative assistant to legislative director and deputy chief of staff. She’s absorbed a lot about Florida in the process. “Never underestimate Floridians,” says the die-hard Buckeye. She still owes Feeney spokeswoman Pepper Pennington a week’s worth of lunches for Florida’s crushing win over Ohio State in the BCS championship game. What if they end up facing off in the NCAA basketball final? “We haven’t come up with a bet this time around,” Wybensinger says. “Maybe just one lunch.” -M.K.

Katz, Marisa


  1. Amber -  March 16, 2015 - 10:36 pm

    Well, it may be something else, but from what yall are discribing, it sounds pretty similar. Iive in Texas, and it is about 12:30 at night, and the sky is very veryy bright orange. If it was usually like this, or it was just the sunset, Id understand. But this is 12 a.m. and the sky is glowing orange… it doesnt usually do this. Its gorgeous, though, and very cool. Thus fascinates me.

  2. timmy -  March 3, 2015 - 9:50 pm

    Tonight the sky looks bright to the north like the sun is about to come up and to the south its like a red dawn color its 11:30 pm but it seems like the sun is coming up.the sky is just bright. Pensacola FL

  3. lauren -  October 14, 2014 - 11:56 am

    I saw a strange red light fly across the sky tonight it was huge it cant be an airplane my dad thinks itvwas a ufo but I have no clue what to believe someone plz tell me whats going on

  4. Zachary -  August 19, 2014 - 8:36 pm

    I remember i was taking trash out last summer and i seen a green beem went over the my house and red oringe mixed and some blue and purple i live in the the country and it was crazy i turned around and saw lightning. i live in nothern Indiana it is comon to see them but rarey.

  5. jack -  July 7, 2014 - 10:45 am

    Yes its true i saw it…
    Mizoram you check the news tomorrow if you don’t belive..@mizoram

  6. Curniya -  July 5, 2014 - 2:59 am

    Tonight I was shooting fireworks with my cousins and then I looked up & noticed a red ball moving through the sky. Knowing me , I thought it was a UFO . But now I know what it was . My cousins had thought it was an airplane but the light was too big to be an airplane.

  7. Elizabeth -  June 24, 2014 - 9:26 am

    Last night I saw a orange glow at 11 or 12 am and I took a video of it. My Mom’s friend said it was Et. I don’t think he saw the orange glow.

    • Elizabeth -  June 24, 2014 - 9:34 am

      I live in Peyton, Colorado. I forgot to put where I live

    • vishnu -  January 6, 2015 - 10:33 am

      I saw glow,it blinked twice it was just near the orion.i saw it around 7:30(IST).

  8. Zobe -  November 20, 2012 - 10:36 am

    I live in south Florida. I never thought that it could happen far south, but last night the sky had that reddish like glowing until very past midnight. Was this an Aurora Borealis? Did the sun erupt again?

  9. Donna -  October 24, 2011 - 7:45 pm

    i seen it tonight about 45 min after the sun went down it was off to the north west of where i was standing and was a redish orange color and was moving and only lasted about 5 min then it was gone . my husband tried to take some pics of it not sure if he could get it or not. but it was cool and i live in illinois about an hour from indy

  10. Bob, Indiana -  October 24, 2011 - 6:56 pm

    About 8:45 CDT saw a red fluctuating glow in the NNW section of the sky. Haven’t ever seen the aurora this far south. We’re in Newburgh, Indiana, further south than most of Kentucky! It disappeared after a few minutes. Sad.

  11. Keith -  October 24, 2011 - 6:48 pm

    I’m in southern Missouri and the night sky is pink.

  12. Roni -  August 25, 2011 - 5:09 pm

    It is just before sundown tonight and suddenly the sky and a aura all around was orange—not red, but navel orange orange. Why?

  13. Bob -  August 18, 2011 - 6:41 pm

    At 6:15 AM as the sun was about to rise in the east. There was a strange orange glow coming from behind the clouds. The houses facing west were all lit with this orange glow. Similar to what I would see at sunset, not sunrise. But I live in Flemington, NJ (just 20 minutes north of Princeton).

  14. Becky -  July 22, 2011 - 8:04 am

    Don’t know where I’ve been….When can the Northern Lights most likely to happen again?

  15. Toronto Canada. -  August 26, 2010 - 7:01 am

    My cousin seen some red light in the sky and trippped he didn’t even sleep ahahah so this morning we google it and found out it was the nothern lights it happpened around 2am

  16. Tiffany -  August 9, 2010 - 9:41 pm

    I just got inside from watching the sky flicker with light over and over again – like big intermittent flashes that fill the sky for a split second.

  17. raven2uk -  August 6, 2010 - 6:16 pm

    the sky over lncolnshire this evening had an amazing pink glow to it.

  18. annonymous -  August 5, 2010 - 10:59 pm

    I live in Gig Harbor, WA and I saw flashes of light out my window through the blinds late lastnight until around 2 am.

  19. jessie -  August 5, 2010 - 7:58 pm

    i live in brunswick ohio, just 20 min south of cleveland ohio and i didnt see them hope i do 2nite. i will take pics.thx.

  20. Alex, MA -  August 4, 2010 - 9:16 pm

    I didn’t see them, but it served as an excuse to drink a sauternes in the woods under the starlight with my roommates. Thanks, northern lights!

  21. zyanya -  August 4, 2010 - 6:19 pm

    do you think it will reach brentwood california 94513 its by sanfransico california

  22. majock -  August 4, 2010 - 5:20 pm

    yeah i see it hear too in calgary AB canada
    I how go around to china :)

  23. jen -  August 4, 2010 - 5:18 pm

    will i be able to see it from California?????

  24. Steve-Colo -  August 4, 2010 - 5:11 pm

    We are in the foothills of the Rockies between Denver and Cheyenne and just before sunset we saw an orange glow North and N.west. Not the bluish light we see from “normal-Northern lights. Good luck to all looking!

  25. Mitch -  August 4, 2010 - 5:03 pm

    if you are anywhere in canada and you don’t see them look north and line the power lines up with the moon.
    you can even see them by doing this on a regular night.

  26. Alex, MA -  August 4, 2010 - 4:23 pm

    I don’t know if I’ll see it, but what a great excuse for a midnight hike in the Arboretum

  27. Terry -  August 4, 2010 - 4:16 pm

    Don’t discount what your seeing. Back in the early ’80′s, like in ’83 I think, I was jogging down the gravel road in NE Arkansas and my sister and I stopped to look at the pinkish/orangish cloud and we pondered if it was a forest fire off in the darkness. We watched the news later to find out it was the Northern Lights!
    Gosh, I wish I could still jog!

  28. Bedazzelle -  August 4, 2010 - 4:08 pm

    OH WOW!!! I love the aurora! Its mostly seen in Alaska! I have a documentary on them with actual footage of the beautiful aurora’s! I live on the east coast in Pennsylvania, sadly, i dont think i will see it….

  29. Laura -  August 4, 2010 - 4:03 pm

    I live in Kent(30 minutes South of Seattle), and I also saw a weird flash of white light across the entire sky last night.(Technically this morning)… I thought it was lightning, but wondered how, since the sky appeared mostly clear of clouds! That is just insanely cool!!

  30. Collin -  August 4, 2010 - 3:58 pm

    i hope that it will be able to be seen on willow grove pa.

  31. The One You Hate -  August 4, 2010 - 3:51 pm

    Holy crap!!! Maybe it’ll reach Antarctica, where I live. This is serious. I am taking a field trip to see the native populations of the Eskimos and I am apparentally like 3% Eskimo. So my parents thought it would be good to reach what they call my “roots”. Strangly, I have internet here… ”;

  32. Christine -  August 4, 2010 - 3:50 pm

    How bout Massachusetts??
    hmmm hopefullyy

  33. Mr Downunder -  August 4, 2010 - 3:22 pm

    Do you think that those of us in the great southern lands of Australia and New Zealand (the greater of the two) have a hope seeing the northern lights or should we just be content with the much better southern aurora/southern lights.

  34. gwacle -  August 4, 2010 - 3:10 pm

    will NJ See it?

  35. Lalo -  August 4, 2010 - 3:06 pm

    I live in Riverside, California, and my cousin Alex lives in Anaheim, California. Will we be able to see the aurora borealis?

  36. Stu -  August 4, 2010 - 3:04 pm

    Im in Kerang Vic Aussi…
    i might be south enough, dunno.
    Wouldnt mind if we could just tow them round the World a bit for every one to have a good look at!
    pics will do..

  37. Bubba -  August 4, 2010 - 2:57 pm

    I once saw the borealis after 12 coronas.

  38. olayemi -  August 4, 2010 - 2:56 pm

    ihope it reaches colorado

  39. debbie -  August 4, 2010 - 2:52 pm

    Hi to you all,Im here in South Wales Great Britain hoping to maybe get a glmpse too,is that hoping or what!! Its wonderful to see all your comments from all over the world.

  40. stefan rhoades -  August 4, 2010 - 2:50 pm

    last night, i’m not sure if it was the eruption or just part of the sunset but the clouds outside my house were all wierd colored when the sun wasn’t even visible. i live in miami fl

  41. Pardha -  August 4, 2010 - 2:32 pm

    i saw a red light spread throughout the sky and at one point it turned purplish and then back to red

  42. Clifton Palmer McLendon -  August 4, 2010 - 2:17 pm

    Years ago I saw them in Central Texas.

  43. Deandra -  August 4, 2010 - 2:01 pm

    Late on Sunday evening here in Austin, Tx, I was sitting outside and thought I saw a shooting star. This time though, whatever it was was alot slower and had a bigger, green streak than a shooting star!

  44. Vicky -  August 4, 2010 - 1:52 pm

    My sister and I saw it last night from outside of Grand Rapids, MI. It was very faint and had no color.

  45. Kellina -  August 4, 2010 - 1:46 pm

    Hopefully it will reach TEXAS!!! :D

  46. sweet-corn -  August 4, 2010 - 1:43 pm

    whaaaat! I’ve been playing northern lights by kenny G since sunday. I haven’t listened to music in a long while, so I went looking for something without words–just instrumental. found a old dvd in a second hand music shop. like the sound and bought it. I wake to it, and then before going to sleep I play it a few times. something about it gives me quiet stillness I need. now I find here on this sight actually what northern lighs MEAN!I’ve been sitting down to sunsets listening to it, and rising early in the morning playing it as well before my day starts. *special–something very special is happening here.{walking away shaking my head and smiling.}

  47. bob -  August 4, 2010 - 1:38 pm

    becareful what you wish for.

  48. Andrea -  August 4, 2010 - 1:34 pm

    I’ve always wanted to see the northern lights! I’m guessing Georgia is much too far south to see them. :/

  49. Thea -  August 4, 2010 - 1:32 pm

    Corona is more than a beer – haha

  50. Mary -  August 4, 2010 - 1:05 pm

    Hopefully I will see it tonight in Buffalo New York! :) What time would be good to go outside?

  51. Anne -  August 4, 2010 - 12:54 pm

    Will we be able to see it in Toronto, Canada? :D

  52. Riajl -  August 4, 2010 - 12:53 pm

    Believe it or not I’ve actually seen it here in Texas about a year and a half ago!!

  53. Essie -  August 4, 2010 - 12:37 pm

    Oh goodness! I stayed up till 4 last night in Oregon, waiting for some lights to appear.
    And nope.
    It stayed pitch black all night. I live in Portland, OR, shouldn’t I be able to see it? D;

  54. Steve McLardo -  August 4, 2010 - 12:32 pm

    i like cheese

  55. Therese -  August 4, 2010 - 12:28 pm

    When I was a teenager, I lived in a suburb of New York City. Over 35 years ago and I still remember looking at the night sky bursts of colors would be spilling across this gigantic canvas. Frightened at first, I noticed there were no sounds besides the usual crickets, but the sky was changing with splashes of hues in deep colors. Orange, green and then a rare darker red color would cover the previous colors. I have not seen the northern lights again and I doubt I will see these in Arizona, but I will look.
    Thank you.

  56. sunnygirl -  August 4, 2010 - 12:25 pm

    AWWWW. I normally live in northern Utah, but my mom, brother and sister and me have gone down south to Texas to visit some relatives and friends. Not that I’m complaining about visiting family, of course, but it would be SO COOL to see the northern lights from our backyard!
    Oh well. My dad started flying back to Utah this morning at 8:30 AM. It’s currently 2:20 where I am and that means it would be 1:20 where he is. I hope he’s home so that we can call him and tell him about the aurora borealis so that he can hurry quick get a half-decent disposable camera and take some pictures tonight!
    That’s some rotten luck, isn’t it? But it’s a good thing that my dad’s over there!!!

  57. Wesley -  August 4, 2010 - 12:15 pm

    I reside in Renton, 30 minutes from seattle (WA) and saw them in yellow flashes.

  58. Anonymous -  August 4, 2010 - 12:11 pm

    ^^^ Number one, the world isn’t ending, shutup. Number two, learn how to spell PROPHECY before you give your opinion.

  59. Mike -  August 4, 2010 - 11:59 am

    I remember reading that the Northern Lights were seen in Virginia during the Civil War. Sure enough, here’s a link that lists a collection of solar storms that have written accounts.

  60. nm -  August 4, 2010 - 11:44 am

    i saw a few dull flashes of light in seattle, looked like far off lightening or something. but there were no thunderstorms in the area as far as i know. started around 10:30p and continued intermittently until i went to bed at 11:30p.

  61. Hillary murimi -  August 4, 2010 - 11:33 am

    I see this as an end time profesy being fulfilled and not just solar storm!

  62. Corvenzo -  August 4, 2010 - 11:33 am

    ARRGHHH!!! So Close!!! Think it might reach Chicago?

  63. seth -  August 4, 2010 - 11:32 am

    Living in hawaii I won’t get to see it but for those of you that do please take phenomal pictures for us to be enthralled by :) thank you

  64. optrix -  August 4, 2010 - 11:15 am

    I live in portland oregon. last night I awoke at 4 am and decided to get a late night snack, and when i looked out of my window the sky had a unregular dark orange glow to it. usually at 4 it has a dark blue/black complexion. Maybe this could have caused it?

  65. PLASMA | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  August 4, 2010 - 10:45 am

    [...] Platelets and a Gallon of Blood or two — and recently we watched TV to see the SUN has PLASMA too. — It’s all an amazing balance with so many different factors — not unlike [...]

  66. James -  August 4, 2010 - 10:37 am

    If anyone sees the aurora berealis, please take photos and share them with me. I am from South Africa; Limpopo, if only was i in the northen parts of US…

  67. Lucy-Gita -  August 4, 2010 - 10:36 am

    The sky had a beutiful pink silk over it. It was just amazing. I wish the people in London would get to see this.

    Santa Ana, CA 6:15pm

  68. Deathgleaner -  August 4, 2010 - 10:29 am

    I’m based in Seattle, and I didn’t see it.

  69. wisconsinite -  August 4, 2010 - 10:19 am

    I saw a great orange-colored glow yesterday morning around 5am as the sun was rising. We live in Wisconsin and I am betting that this is what it was. It lasted for just a few minutes as the sun rose. My husband and I both noticed the strange sunrise coloring – almost like the sky had been “photoshopped” to be extremely saturated in color. Wish I had my camera ready. I’ll keep my eyes open tonight for more auroras!

  70. Shaneel -  August 4, 2010 - 10:16 am

    Oh I wish I could see this, but there is no way this is going to reach Florida! I guess I will have to satisfy with pictures

  71. Siphiwe -  August 4, 2010 - 10:14 am

    When can we expect to see this phenomenon here in South Africa? Anyone who has an idea please help, just estimate the time +2:00 GMT

  72. Jojo -  August 4, 2010 - 10:08 am

    Will these lights one day reach the tiny, mini, teenie weenie state of Rhode Island? OMGG I HOPE SO!!! :D :D :D

  73. Ace -  August 4, 2010 - 9:52 am

    Darn it, Gage, your’e still more north than i am, and i’ll never get to see them

  74. Gage -  August 4, 2010 - 9:47 am

    Sadly, I do not believe it will reach as far south as Tennessee. I wish, though.

  75. Lucy -  August 4, 2010 - 9:36 am

    Do you think the auroras will reach Hampshire, UK? I’ve always wanted to see the northern lights. It’ll probably be cloudy tonight though, we’ve had some thunder and rain. :(


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