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Northern lights are visible this week in places that rarely see them

This week, the northern lights are showing up in places that rarely see them — in places like northern Utah, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Wyoming and many other states

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Lindsay Redd

Many people dream of seeing the northern lights someday but aren’t able to make the trip north to be able to view them. This week, however, the northern lights are showing up in places that rarely see them — in places like northern Utah, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Wyoming and many other states.

The skies in Ogden, Utah were lit up in purple and green Sunday night by aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights.

“The last time I remember seeing one was in the early 2000s,” Patrick Wiggins, a NASA ambassador who was stationed at the Stansbury Observatory, told KSL-TV.

Observers in Southeastern Idaho also had a clear view of the phenomenon.

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The phenomenon known as aurora borealis lit up skies in areas that it rarely shows itself Sunday night. Spectators in Soda Springs, Idaho witnessed the spectacle Sunday night.

Chet Hopkins

According to CBS News, “More than four million Americans across 30 states had a chance to see the Northern lights” this week.

What causes the northern lights?

The way the northern lights occur is “when particles emitted by the sun collide with particles that are already trapped around Earth’s magnetic field,” The New York Times reported.

On Friday, the sun set off a massive energy burst called coronal mass ejections, which causes the spectacle to happen closer to the equator, Robert Steenburgh, a space scientist with the Space Weather Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the Times.

How to track northern lights sightings

You can follow the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to get alerted when the next time the rare occurrence could take place.

Sightings are only possible when the sky is clear and very dark. So if you do get alerted that a sighting is possible, make sure to go somewhere open with as little light pollution as possible to get a glimpse of the special experience.