Northern lights spotted over Charles City late Monday

By Kate Hayden,

Some Charles City residents had a rare treat spotting the northern lights late Monday night.

Jack Mackay documented the lights’ appearance over Floyd County skies at about midnight, after he and his wife, Laura, waited south of the Avenue of the Saints exit for their chance.

The pair spent about 15 minutes in the cold taking photos.

“The lights were a true spectacle to behold, despite the freezing temperatures outside,” said Mackay, a photographer and an associate pastor at Bethany Alliance Church.

The northern lights, a phenomenon also known as aurora borealis in the Northern Hemisphere, occurs when particles in the Earth’s atmosphere collide with charged particles emitted from the sun’s atmosphere.

The northern lights are occasionally visible in the Midwest when a shock wave from solar flares or a geomagnetic storm pushes south from Canada and Alaska, where they are typically seen.

The colors include greenish-yellow, white, red or reddish-purple, according to the National Weather Service.