Rare View From Plane Leaves Internet Speechless: 'Not a Normal Sight'

A video of a plane passenger's unexpected view during a flight from San Francisco to New York City has gone viral on TikTok, where it received 2.1 million views at the time of writing.

The footage shared by TikToker Michael Abramyan (@mikeabr) was posted with a caption that said: "not a normal sight for this route [crying laughing emoji] #northernlights #aurora #astrophotography."

The clip begins with the camera panning above rows of passenger seats inside a darkened plane cabin.

A message overlaid on the video read: "POV [point of view]: you're the only one on your flight who noticed what was outside the window," as the footage revealed a view of a plane wing against a backdrop of what appeared to be a colorful Northern Lights.

View of Northern Lights from plane.
A stock image of a view of the Northern Lights from inside a plane. A video of a plane passenger's view of the Aurora Borealis on a flight from San Francisco to New York City has gone viral on TikTok. iStock / Getty Images Plus

The video showed a shade of red, flashing continuously against the wing, with a strip of bright green along a horizon in the distance. A vivid red sky was later seen just above the green strip before the clip ended.

In a later comment, the original poster said the plane was traveling from San Francisco International Airport to New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport, so it's "not a common route to see NL [Northern Lights] [smiley face with star-shaped eyes]."

The Northern Lights (also known as Aurora Borealis) are the result of electrons colliding with the upper reaches of Earth's atmosphere.

"In these collisions, the electrons transfer their energy to the atmosphere thus exciting the atoms and molecules to higher energy states," according to the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). "When they relax back down to lower energy states, they release their energy in the form of light. This is similar to how a neon light works."

The Northern Lights can often be viewed "somewhere on Earth" just after sunset or just before sunrise. They're not visible during daylight hours.

They usually form about 80 to 500 kilometers above the Earth's surface but can be seen from as much as 1,000 kilometers away "when the aurora is bright and if conditions are right," the NOAA says.

The Space Weather Prediction Center explained that the Earth's magnetic field "guides the electrons such that the aurora forms two ovals approximately centered at the magnetic poles. During major geomagnetic storms, the ovals expand away from the poles such that aurora can be seen over most of the United States.

"When space weather activity increases and more frequent and larger storms and substorms occur, the aurora extends equatorward. During large events, the aurora can be observed as far south as the U.S., Europe, and Asia," the center said.

Several users on TikTok were blown away by the spectacular view in the video.

In a comment that got 18,700 likes, user Anshul soni said: "I don't believe that the pilot didn't announce it out loud."

User Mama Casss wrote: "I would have been like "Y'ALL LOOK OUT THE WINDOW IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL,'" in a comment that got 12,600 likes.

User Laila Fallaha said: "i would have screamed [crying laughing emoji]," while user Caleb Verpoort simply said: "Unbelievable..."

Dan_Giff said: "That's a precious view," while user aly wrote: "So lucky to see this!!!."

Newsweek reached out to the original poster for comment. The video has not been independently verified.

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