Jaw-dropping northern lights from massive solar flares amaze skywatchers around the world. ‘We have a very rare event on our hands.’ (photos)

An aurora show like no other is playing out in the night sky this weekend as a historic northern lights display spawned by intense solar storms paints the sky in spectacular hues of pinks, purples and greens. 

“We have a very rare event on our hand,” Shawn Dahl, Service Coordinator of NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Group, told reporters on Friday (May 10) just hours before the northern lights spectacle began.

In the United States, the northern lights (or aurora borealis) — typically only visible around the Arctic region and northern Canada — were expected to be visible as far south as at least Alabama or Northern California — with NOAA officials reporting sightings from locations even farther south. Editor Brett Tingley witnessed dazzling event from South Carolina, a surprise light show for a local music festival.

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