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. 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?

  2. 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

  3. 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.

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

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

  5. 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?

  6. 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).

  7. Becky -  July 22, 2011 - 8:04 am

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

  8. 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

  9. 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.

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

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

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

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

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

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

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

  16. jen -  August 4, 2010 - 5:18 pm

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

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

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