Green and Purple Aurora Colors Alaskan Skies (Photo)

Aurora Near Fairbanks, Alaska
Astrophotographer John Chumack took this image from mountains about 60 miles east of Fairbanks, Alaska on March 19, 2015 while leading his annual aurora tour and workshop.
(Image: © John Chumack/GalacticImages.com)

Wisps of green light swim through purple skies in this stunning image of the aurora borealis.

Astrophotographer John Chumack took this image from a mountain location about 60 miles (96 kilometers) east of Fairbanks, Alaska, on March 19, 2015, while leading his annual aurora tour and workshop.

"The aurora can get so bright that it can cast shadows and changes the color of the snow," Chumack wrote in an email to Space.com. "Yes, mint green, red, or purple snow!"

Auroras are caused by charged particles from the sun (the solar wind) that interact with the Earth's atmosphere at altitudes above 50 miles (80 km). The particles are drawn to Earth's polar regions by the planet's magnetic field, resulting in aurora borealis, or northern lights, and its southern counterpart, the aurora australis, or southern lights.

Chumack used a 6 second exposure, @ ISO 3200, Canon 6D DSLR, 24 mm lens. The image also shows the M45 Pleiades star cluster and the planet Venus.

To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by readers, visit our astrophotography archive.

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