Northern lights shine bright over Adirondacks last week
By Rachel Silberstein, Times Union
EDINBURG —The northern lights were visible in parts of the Adirondacks this past Thursday evening — a breathtaking moment captured by an Edinburg woman who braved the rain with an iPhone 14 Pro.
Desiree Dake, who uses an app to track aurora activity, said the clouds parted and she saw purples, pinks and florescent greens flash over the Great Sacandaga Lake between 9 p.m. and midnight.
The northern lights, known as aurora borealis, occur when pulses from sun collide with particles in the earth’s atmosphere, creating a geomagnetic storm that illuminates the clouds, according to the National Weather Service.
Weather Service Albany meteorologist Kevin Lipton said the aurora is visible from the Adirondacks several times per year, but this storm was unusually strong, peaking at around midnight at a magnitude of G4 on the five-level scale meteorologists use to measure geomagnetic activity.
“Once you get up to a G4 or G5 … you can get some power grid issues. It’s really significant once it gets to that level of activity,” Lipton said. “If the skies had been a little more clear across the area last night, a lot more people would have seen it, and it would have been really spectacular.”
Dake said she received an alert on her phone that geomagnetic activity would increase at around 9 p.m. Despite the rain, she and her husband, Zak, jumped into a car and drove to the Batchellerville Bridge near her home.
As they arrived, the clouds cleared, but the lights were barely visible; they could be mistaken for the glow of a town or city in the distance, Dake said. She knew it was the aurora because she pointed her iPhone camera in the direction of the glow and the colors picked up more vividly on screen.
It started getting chilly and the couple decided to leave around 10:50 p.m. As soon as they got into their vehicle, they saw a green light strobe across the sky.
For the next 20 minutes or so, “the light shot up in pillars, and danced in waves across the whole sky,” Dake told the Times Union. “It was absolutely stunning.”
According to news reports, the auroras dazzled so brightly, they were visible as far south as North Carolina, Arizona and northern California.
Dake’s photos have been shared by hundreds on Facebook since she posted them Friday morning. She advises people interested in witnessing the spectacle for themselves to download an app that tracks the KP index. The alerts usually provide short notice, but anything over a KP 6, which indicates a G2 geomagnetic storm is brewing, is worth leaving the house for, Dake said.
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