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Did you see the northern lights? Photos show lights dancing across southern Ontario

The northern lights above Authur, Ont. on March 23. (Kevin Gilbert) The northern lights above Authur, Ont. on March 23. (Kevin Gilbert)
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An uncommon phenomenon lit up the skies across southern Ontario on Thursday night, including in Waterloo region where the aurora borealis – also known as the northern lights - shone bright enough to be seen with the naked eye.

According to the Government of Canada, auroras occur when charged particles - electrons and protons - collide with gases in Earth's upper atmosphere. Those collisions produce tiny flashes that fill the sky with colourful light.

The light display was a result of an Earth-facing coronal hole on the sun and solar winds, according to National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA)

On Thursday night these flashes were so bright they were visible across southern Ontario.

People took to social media to share their photos of the phenomenon.

A photo shared on Twitter appears to show the lights above Glenridge Plaza in Waterloo just before 11 p.m.

While the lights were visible in the city, those living in more rural areas were able to see vibrant colours streak across the sky.

Armature photographer Kevin Gilbert shared a series of photos on Twitter showing streaks of green and red stretching across the sky above Arthur.

The forecast form the NOAA shows the probability of seeing the aurora was high Thursday around 2:30 a.m.

A projection of the aurora borealis for March 24. (NOAA)

The brightness and location of the aurora are typically shown as a green oval centred on Earth’s magnetic pole. The green ovals turn red when the aurora is forecasted to be more intense, the NOAA websites reads.

WHEN CAN YOU SEE THE LIGHTS NEXT?

If you missed the lights last night, you may be in luck as increased solar activity is expected to continue Friday night.

A forecast form the NOAA shows geomagnetic storms are likely on March 25 and 26, with an experimental aurora viewline showing the southern extent of where the aurora might be seen stretches into southern Ontario.

According to the NOAA, a geomagnetic storm watch is in effect until from March 23 to 25.

To monitor the aurora forecast in the northern hemisphere click here.

“Solar wind speeds are likely to be in excess of 600 km/s and continue into 25 March, resulting in isolated G1 storm levels,” the agency said.

Correction

An earlier version showed the NOAA model forecast as upcoming. This has been changed to reflect it was Thursday nights forecast.

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