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Northern Lights visible in the Ozarks


Suprisingly strong solar activity brings the Northern Lights to the Ozarks. Mike Smith has the story:

Links: Evan Bookbinder's pictures of Northern Lights

Skywatchers in the Ozarks got a rare treat November 7th with an appearance of the Northern Lights. The phenomenom showed itself shortly after sunset and continued with varying intensities and patterns until near midnight.

George Wolf is a Professor of Astronomy at Southwest Missouri State University. He says the material that shoots out of solar flares becomes the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)and travels at over a million miles an hour. When it reaches the our planet, that material gets caught in the Earth's magnetic field and in effect, is seen falling down from the (North) pole.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Evan Bookbinder was on duty at Springfield/Branson Regional Airport Sunday evening when calls started coming in asking about the strange lights to the north. After being impressed by what he saw, Bookbinder was able to take several digital photographs of the Aurora Borealis and post them on the Springfield NWS website.

Meanwhile, SMSU Professor of Astronomy George Wolf says the intensity of the Aurora Borealis in the Ozarks is surprising given that solar activity is on the downswing in its 11 year cycle.

For KSMU News, I'm Mike Smith.