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Northern Lights fill the Hi-Line Sky

Havre Daily News/Zach White

The western end of Sunday's Aurora Borealis reaching out over the Hi-Line. This picture was taken just south of U.S. Highway 2 on Co. Rd. 335 S. between Kremlin and Fresno Reservoir around midnight.

Aside from a brief break from temperatures in the 90s, nature gave the Hi-Line another rare summer treat this weekend, the Aurora Borealis.

The solar flare that exploded out of the sunspot called AR1520 on Thursday afternoon made contact with Earth's atmosphere Saturday afternoon and caused the light display that lasted well into Sunday night.

When those energized pieces of the sun that were thrown towards Earth, taking two days to get here, hit the planet's magnetic field, the reaction created these lights, which are most commonly green, though some slight purple beams were occasionally visible on Sunday night.

This was an X-class flare, the strongest of three categories: C-class, M-class and X-class, though it was only rated a 1.4 on a scale from 1 to 20.

If you missed this weekend's display, there should be other opportunities in the next year or two. The solar activity that causes the phenomenon runs on an 11-year cycle, which is currently one year away from another peak.

This was the sixth flare so far this year, though not quite as big as a 5.4 X-class flare that grazed Earth's south pole back in March.


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