Beautiful Aurora Triggers Nest Doorbell Camera, Captures Light Display on Film

A stunning aurora display has been filmed on a Nest doorbell camera in Alaska.

The footage was posted to Twitter by climatologist Ben Brettschneider. It showed black and white footage of the northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, whip and flicker above the rooftops of houses on the opposite side of the street.

Brettschneider told Newsweek he was no stranger to such spectacular sights in Alaska: "It occurred while we were asleep, so I did not see the aurora event in real time. I have seen aurora a number of times though, just not that time. Seeing a brilliant aurora is a life changing experience. It's like seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, but each aurora is different and each aurora experience is unique."

The northern lights occur around the globe at the most northern latitudes. They are caused when charged particles from the sun slam into Earth's magnetic field.

When the solar particles strike the magnetic field they are redirected towards the polar regions by the curvature of the field, meaning they are seen almost exclusively in the far north and south of the planet.

In North America, the aurora is typically seen in northern Canada, Alaska and other northern states like Idaho, Minnesota and Maine. Yet it can occur further south too. Famously it was seen as far south as Honolulu during a solar storm known as the Carrington event in 1859, and above the civil war battlefield of Fredericksburg in Virginia three years later in 1862.

The northern lights have a prominent place in various cultural traditions including various Native American tribes. The Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak said the Iñupiaq peoples of Alaska believed that the aurora could kill people exposed to it, while the Łingit of south-eastern Alaska said it showed spirits of the dead.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tracks the aurora and produces a forecast for when and where the phenomenon is likely to occur. The latest forecast said there is between a 10 and 50 percent chance of seeing the northern lights across much of Alaska on March 3.

Brettschneider said his time in Alaska has allowed him to see an abundance of natural phenomenon like the aurora, along with those being caused by climate change, which warms the Arctic faster than any other region on Earth.

"Being a climatologist in Alaska is to see the changing planet with your own eyes," he said. "I've lived here for 16 years, and I tell people that I remember what Alaska used to be like. Seeing the changes first-hand provides a unique opportunity to describe to people what their future looks like."

The aurora borealis seen above Fairbanks, Alaska
The aurora borealis seen above Fairbanks, Alaska. The phenomenon is caused by charged particles from the sun hitting the Earth's magnetic field. Lance King / Contributor/Getty Images