Northern Lights: Aurora Borealis takes unusual trip down south

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – There is a fascinating phenomena that most people have to watch wearing hats gloves and a 40 pound winter jacket, but we were fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of it right here in Virginia. It's called the northern lights and it's produced red and green streaks in the sky across many states -- even into the southeast.

It's an amazing sight that residents in the Arctic Circle see pretty frequently. The Aurora Borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights, shines beautiful streaks of fluorescent colors across the skies. These pictures were taken Monday from the higher latitudes over Canada and Norway.

This was our sight from central Virginia in King William County Monday night. Bright red colors filled the clear skies all across the state. Actually the lights were visible from more than 30 other states, extending as far south as Arkansas. A rare event we were lucky to see.

It's called the northern lights because usually that's the only place you see them...near the North Pole.  But when a magnetic storm is large enough like the one we saw on Monday, the lights can be seen farther south into the mid latitudes.

Much like the earth has a cycle of seasons as it rotates around the sun, the sun has its own cycle of when it creates more mass ejections. The frequency and intensity of the eruptions peak about every 11 years, and we are just entering into its next peak.

So keep your eyes peeled, this may not be the last time we get a glimpse of the famous northern lights here in Virginia.