Stunning Photos of the Aurora Lights Seen as Far South as New Mexico

Northern lights in Virginia
Northern lights over Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley on March 23 | Peter Forister

An intense electromagnetic storm created an awesome show of northern lights as far south as Arizona last week piquing the interest of photographers across North America.

Even in Canada it’s unusual to get the glorious multi-color display that the Aurora borealis puts on, and Ontario-based PetaPixel reader Raghuvamsh Chavali sent in his spectacular photo of the phenomenon.

northern lights in Ontario
The aurora display in southern Ontario | Raghuvamsh Chavali

“In the early hours of March 24, between 24:00 and 02:00, I received a notification on the aurora forecast website indicating an aurora activity level of 7/10 for March 24, 25, and 26,” Chavali says.

“Immediately, I looked up at the sky, I noticed faint stripes in the distance. I drove towards the outskirts of town and witnessed a breathtaking display of the northern lights.”

Chavali says it is rare to experience the northern lights in southern Ontario and that it was a privilege.

“I captured the beauty of the northern lights as they danced across the sky with my camera despite shivering in the cold,” he says.

“I felt grateful for this incredible experience, which was a reminder of the power and majesty of nature and how fortunate we are to witness such rare and breathtaking events.”

northern lights
Northern lights seen in Virginia | Peter Forister

Chavali was not the only photographer who pointed their lens at the beautiful lights. Peter Forister also captured the light’s purple and green hues in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

“You just step back and jaw drop and just watch the show for a few minutes,” Forister tells The Washington Post.

“It was really remarkable, like the kind of show that will make you stop and just catch your breath.”

northern lights
Peter Forister

A ‘Severe’ Electromagnetic Storm

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) rated the electromagnetic storm that caused the bright aurora lights as four out of five, which is severe.

The dazzling lights could be seen as far south as California, New Mexico, Arizona, Iowa, North Carolina, and Oklahoma.

The last time a storm of this severity occurred was back in 2017.

“We were not expecting that level of storm by any means,” Bill Murtagh, program coordinator at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, tells the Post.

“A lot of variables come into play. … It’s difficult to get people spun up for the aurora because so often things don’t work out much more often than they do.”

More of Raghuvamsh Chavali’s work can be found on his Instagram. More of Peter Forister’s work can be found on his Facebook, Twitter, and Darkroom.

Image credits: All photos by Raghuvamsh Chavali and Peter Forister.