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Minnesotans capture stunning northern lights photos on Sunday

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More Northern Lights viewing opportunities coming to southern Minnesota 01:58

MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesotans had a marvelous view of the northern lights on Sunday, and many of them grabbed their cameras to snap some shots.

WCCO has collected some of our viewers' best photos below. You can share your photos by clicking here.

The northern lights, or aurora borealis, are collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere. They usually display in a greenish color, although shades of red, yellow and blue are also possible. 

The rare sighting in the sky is now becoming so much more common in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and even Iowa.

Jacob Schlichter

Professional astrophotographer Jacob Schlichter had all his gear ready to go Sunday night and made his way to the nearest state park in his hometown of Albert Lea. Just before midnight, he was lucky enough to capture some amazing images.  

 "It took about 30 minutes and then just suddenly everything is dancing just above me and it was like super magical," Schlichter said.

He's been taking pictures of the sky since 2016, and has never seen the aurora borealis this strong so far south.

WCCO Meteorologist Chris Shaffer shared a chart showing how large this recent solar flare was. It stretched into Iowa, and parts of Missouri. Shaffer says more large light shows are on the way.  


"Solar activity peaks about every 11 years, and the peak is supposed to be actually next year -- 2024 going into 2025," Shaffer said. "So we're nearing that peak, and we've seen evidence of that."

Here are tips for capturing an aurora:

* Use an aurora tracking app

* Refer to a light pollution map in your area and go to a spot with the weakest light

* Use a long exposure on your cellphone camera

"If you're stable, you know, you could pull off a one-second standing exposure on your phone which will be able to let in enough light to actually get a decent photo," Schlichter said.

But remember: pictures aren't needed to enjoy these magical moments.

"It's just a reminder that if you take time to look around, there's a lot of beauty around us," he said.

Cloud cover plays a huge role as well. So even if the solar flares are big, overcast skies could prevent you from seeing anything.

Click here to view the Bell Museum's MN Stargazing Map.


Twin Cities

By WCCO Staff


The northern lights as seen from Burtrum. Megan Peterson
The northern lights as seen from Burtrum.   Megan Peterson
By WCCO Staff

William O'Brien State Park

WCCO digital producer Liz Christy captured the northern lights over William O'Brien State Park. CBS News
By WCCO Staff

Kjostad Lake

The northern lights as seen from Kjostad Lake. Mark Aune
The northern lights as seen from Kjostad Lake.   Mark Aune
By WCCO Staff


The northern lights as seen from Barrett. Gary Amundson
By WCCO Staff


The northern lights as seen from Woodbury. Isabel Sin
By WCCO Staff


Paul G
The northern lights as seen from Otsego. Paul G
By WCCO Staff
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