Residents from Montana to Missouri reported seeing the northern lights overnight, as forecasters said the phenomenon, also known as the northern lights, would be visible across part of the West and Midwest until at dawn on Tuesday.
The Northern Lights get their name because they light up the sky at higher latitudes. Monday evening, the phenomenon produced red or purple pillars in some places, and green and purple spots in others. Colors stained the night sky like brushstrokes of glow-in-the-dark paint.
The National Weather Service office in Glasgow, Montana, published images Northern Lights taken by its staff. Other social media users have reported sightings in Indiana, Oklahoma, the upper Midwest and beyond.
The Weather Service office in Duluth., Minnesota, said the, formerly Twitter, that the aurora would be visible for several hours overnight across much of the Northland, a term that generally refers to northeastern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin. Eric Snitil, chief meteorologist at WROC television station in Rochester, New York, said the that overnight conditions in Western New York looked “encouraging.”
Sometimes the Northern Lights are only visible using 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 Monday evening.
“Some people will mistake it for clouds or something,” Mr. Schlitt, 32, said from a field near the town of Elsberry, Missouri. “But if you have a good aurora show, you’ll probably see 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 Monday evening and Tuesday. Early Tuesday morning, it said in a new advisory that “strong” geomagnetic activity was occurring.
“Aurora can be seen as far down as Pennsylvania, Iowa and Oregon,” the advisory states.
Space weather experts measure geomagnetic disturbances on a five-level scale that predicts minor, moderate, strong, severe and extreme effects on power grids, satellites and other elements. The higher the storm level G, the more southerly the northern lights tend to be visible. In cases of severe or extreme disturbance, they can be seen as far south as Florida, said William Murtagh, program coordinator at the Space Weather Prediction Center.
Mr. Murtagh said in an email after 2 a.m. Eastern time on Tuesday that while the worst of the latest disturbances had probably passed, it would likely continue to produce auroras visible to the naked eye over some states. North.
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 added that the auroras were unlikely to be visible as far south Tuesday night as they were Monday night.
Mr. Schlitt, the Missouri photographer, said by telephone around 11 p.m. Monday that the red pillars he had seen earlier in the evening had since disappeared. He had a 90-minute drive home and an early work day ahead of him, he said, so he planned to pack his bags soon — unless the colors on his camera screen faded. suddenly intensify.
“If I see a lot of them, I’ll stay a little later,” he said.