Astrophotographer Mike Taylortook this great image on Dec. 7 from a friend's farmhouse at 11:30 p.m. local time using a Nikon D600 camera and 14-24 mm at 14, f/2.8, 30 seconds, ISO 3200. The Andromeda Galaxy and a section of our host galaxy, the Milky Way, are also visible in this photo. The image was processed through Lightroom 4 and Photoshop CS5.
Vivid northern lights like those seen in this image are caused by charged particles from the sun (the solar wind) that interact with the Earth's upper atmosphere. The Earth's magnetic field draws these charged particles to either the North or South Pole, resulting in aurora borealis, or northern lights, and its southern counterpart the aurora australis, or southern lights. [Amazing Aurora Photos of 2013 by Stargazers]