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Northern lights put on spellbinding show in Michigan. How to see them again

The northern lights as visible from Lansing. (Bridge photo by Simon D. Schuster)

Michiganders reached for the sky late Friday, pointing cell phones toward the heavens to get a rare glimpse of the northern lights that were visible because of a major geomagnetic storm.

The majestic lights — or aurora borealis — were visible far farther south than usual. They were best seen in northern states like Michigan and Maine, but were reportedly visible as far south as Florida.

More great northern lights shots from Lansing. (Bridge photo by Simon D. Schuster)

Geomagnetic storms are major disturbances in the Earth’s magnetosphere caused by energy from solar winds. Severe storms can occur after a coronal mass ejection, when the sun expels tons of plasma and magnetic fields. In its announcement Thursday, NOAA said at least five “earth directed” CMEs had been observed.

That’s in addition to several strong solar flares that are associated with a “large and magnetically complex” sunspot cluster 16 times the diameter of the Earth, the agency said.  

Related: Severe solar storm will make northern lights visible in Michigan

The northern lights produce an ethereal light show that is typically limited to regions a bit closer to the northern and southern poles.  But geomagnetic storms can cause the lights to be seen in places closer to the equator, depending on the intensity of the storm.

And great news: They are expected to be seen again throughout Michigan on Saturday starting around 10 p.m. If you get some great photos, send them our way to, and we could use them in a future post. (Sending the photos acknowledges our rights to reprint, but not sell.)

Meantime, staffers at Bridge Michigan and BridgeDetroit got caught up in the excitement. Check out these photos, first from Deputy Editor Jonathan Oosting in Frankfort:

BridgeDetroit executive director Laurén Abdel-Razzaq took this from southeast Michigan.

Here's one from Joel Kurth, Bridge Michigan executive editor, in his driveway in West Bloomfield.

Finally, Bill Emkow, growth director, traveled to Iceland a few years ago in hopes of seeing the northern lights. He was out of luck then, but shot this in Ann Arbor on Friday.

Happy viewing, all. Remember to keep those cell phones steady. And don't forget to share your photos with your favorite nonprofit news site at

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