Amazing Video Shows Northern Lights Dancing in Sky Above Wisconsin Lake

Breathtaking footage has emerged showing the northern lights shimmering in the sky above Wisconsin.

The video was captured on March 20 above Lake Wissota, a 6148-acre lake in Chippewa County in the northern western part of the state.

Photographer Justin Patchin, who lives in Wisconsin's Chippewa Valley, created the 40-second-long clip with time-lapse footage he captured of the northern lights dancing above the lake.

Coincidentally, the northern lights lit up the Wisconsin sky on the first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, after which point the days are longer than the nights.

Also known as aurora borealis, northern lights occur when activity on the surface of the sun gives off a cloud of gas. This is known as the coronal mass ejection. Sometimes these bursts of gas can hit the Earth's invisible magnetic field, which is comparable to a long tail, after travelling around two to three days. The impact can create charged particles, which are seen as the northern lights when they hit against oxygen and nitrogen atoms in the Earth's atmosphere.

The phenomenon can be seen in a range of colors, from the bright greens seen in Patchin's footage, to hues of blue, purple, and red. The colors depend on the altitude where the phenomenon is happening, with greens most bright between 60 to 150 miles above the Earth, bluey-violet and shades of red found below 60 miles, and ruby reds at 150 miles.

The spectacle is most commonly seen in areas of high altitude and near the north pole, such as in Antarctica, and Canada, and they can be seen almost nightly in places such as Alaska and Greenland. But it is possible to see them anywhere, including as far south as Mexico.

As such, the northern lights can be spotted in northern U.S. states such as Wisconsin and Alaska, but also Pennsylvania. They have also been known to appear in states including Illinois, Oregon, Maine, Washington and Montana. According to a blog post by professor Jerry Zhu of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, some northern states can see a few shows of aurora borealis each year.

To watch the northern lights like Patchin did, Zhu recommends heading to an open space with a good view of the northern horizon that is away from light pollution such as street lights.

The counterpart of the northern lights in the southern hemisphere are called southern lights, or aurora australis. Auroras of all kinds happen more often when solar sunspots are particularly active.

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A stock image shows the northern lights above an unnamed lake in Wisconsin. Photographer Justin Patchin captured the phenomenon above Lake Wissota on March 20. Getty