Northern lights: Why were they pink in North Texas?

Some North Texans got a chance to see the northern lights on Friday night due to a rare extreme solar storm, but many are asking why the lights were pink instead of green.

To explain, you have to know a bit about how auroras are formed.

When energized particles from the sun hit Earth's upper atmosphere the planet's magnetic field then directs the particles towards our poles.

When particles enter the atmosphere they then super-charge the electrons in the different gases. Those molecules then release the energy as light.

This is how neon lights work. 

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Korynne Feliu in Sadler

The different elements in the atmosphere that give off the light give off different colors.

Green is the most common color in an aurora because that is the color given off when there is a high concentration of oxygen.


See Northern lights photos as strong solar storm hits Earth

An unusually strong solar storm hitting Earth was able to produce northern lights across parts of the U.S. and the world.

The lights in North Texas were very high in the atmosphere, where there is a low concentration of oxygen. That gave off the red and pink hue that some saw on Friday night.

If you are in an area seeing purples and blues, that is at a very low altitude, where the concentration of nitrogen is high.

Will North Texas see the Northern Lights this weekend?

The extreme geomagnetic storm continues and will persist through at least Sunday.

The chance of seeing the northern lights in North Texas is pretty unlikely, with the NOAA prediction not including our area.

NOAA also didn't include North Texas in its Friday night predictions, so if the solar activity is high enough there is a chance.