I Finally Saw The Northern Lights And Was Awestruck

I finally saw the Northern Lights, and I was awestruck.  It was the most spectacular display I have ever seen in the sky with pinks, greens, and purples.

I am so thankful that I was able to see them.  And a special vacation trip was not needed. However, I nearly missed one of the most spectacular displays of the Northern Lights in recent history.

I live in Lenawee County, in southeast Michigan. Usually, when news stories report the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) might be visible in Michigan, the forecast is for the further north in the state.  So, I stopped reading the predictions, as usually, by evening, the aurora forecast looked less dismal or impossible for my area.

On May 10, 2024, in a mastermind group I’m part of, a travel blogger shared an article that said the Northern Lights could be visible as far south as Alabama. After quickly checking a few more sources, I felt like the prediction was accurate and would not turn into fake news again for my area.

The thing is, I saw the article around 8:45 PM (Eastern), just as it was starting to get dark. If I had not seen it, I would have likely been sleeping and missed out, like many of my friends and family.

We Almost Missed Them

I recruited my husband, and we headed to a nearby Dark Sky Preserve. A low tire pressure indicator came on on the way, so we turned around. We didn’t want to risk being stranded in the dark, and we were not 100% sure that we would even be able to see anything.

However, on the way home, my husband pulled into a random parking lot a couple of miles from home as it seemed like the tire was holding. The buildings had security lights, but otherwise, the sky was mostly dark and away from light pollution.

And then we almost missed seeing them. We had read to look in the north along the horizon as that is where they were most likely to appear. After it was completely dark, my husband suggested we get out of the car.

Northern Lights in Lenawee County, Michigan May 10th 2024. Photo Credit: Heidi Bender.

And Then We Looked Up

We were amazed when we looked up and to the south as well.

Thankfully, we had read a tip to use the night mode on phone cameras, as they can pick up more light than the naked eye.

We could see the white, wispy trails of the particles with our eyes. Using our phone cameras allowed us to see so much more of the colors.

For 45 minutes, we watched the sky in awe, mostly through our phones. The night sky was the most beautiful that I have ever seen in my entire life.

Seeing the movement and the changes in the pinks, purples, and greens across the sky was astonishing. The streaks of lighter colors shining down were marvelous.

The dazzling display of God’s creation in the sky, seen with your eyes or even with the assistance of cameras, is incredible.

Now that I’ve seen them, I can confidently say that viewing the Northern Lights in person is much better than in pictures and videos.

Northern Lights in Lenawee County, Michigan May 10th 2024. Photo Credit: Heidi Bender.

What Causes an Aurora

I did not understand much about the Northern Lights before seeing them myself.  Solar flares from the sun cause particles to enter the Earth’s atmosphere. The particles interacting with nitrogen and oxygen produce the colorful light shows.

There are also Southern Lights (aurora australis) that occur near the South Pole. The auroras are usually only visible near the North or South Pole.

I am still learning why the auroras were extra amazing on the evening of May 10, 2024, and early morning hours of May 11. The Northern Lights were visible, with the assistance of cameras, much further south than typical.

If you ever have the opportunity to see an aurora, don’t miss it! Seeing them in real life was an amazing bucket-list experience.