The Northern Lights made a spectacular appearance in the sky above Newmarket last night.
On March 23, some residents captured the colours of the Aurora Borealis shortly after 11 p.m.
Rebecca Singh reported seeing the Northern Lights from the Environmental Park, which is north of Davis Drive.
She said she had heard on the Weather Network that they might be visible, so she stopped at the park on her way home from work.
It was her first time seeing the Northern Lights and she said they photographed even better than they appeared in real life.
"It was wild to see it show up on my phone when I could barely see them in real life. I saw bits and pieces of colours and thought why not take a picture. Then it showed up and I couldn't believe my eyes," she said.
Another resident and local artist Sandra Cormier Turnsek shared her experience seeing the Northern Lights on Twitter.
"The sky was awake last night so I couldn't sleep," she said.
The sky was awake last night so I couldn't sleep. #AuroraBorealis #northernlights pic.twitter.com/TQLyeGfUEH— Sandra Cormier (@Chumplet) March 24, 2023
"I'm hyperventilating," she said alongside another photo.
I'm hyperventilating pic.twitter.com/n7ZkgIv0G0— Sandra Cormier (@Chumplet) March 24, 2023
Cormier Turnsek said it wasn't her first time seeing the northern lights but it was the most vivid.
She said saw a social media post from a weather specialist online and peeked out her window where she caught a glimpse of the Borealis. She she grabbed her phone and her camera and rushed outside.
"I have to admit I was hyperventilating for a bit! Very excited," she said.
The Aurora Borealis happens when charged particles travelling in solar winds from the sun collide with gases in Earth's upper atmosphere, according to the Canadian Space Agency. The collisions produce tiny flashes, filling the sky with colours and light.
Typically the best views are closer to the North Magnetic Pole, such as northern regions of Canada, but the lights can also be seen in more southern parts of Canada during periods of intense solar activity, the agency said.
Other photos from social media show the Northern Lights in the U.S., as far south as Missouri, California, Wisconsin, and even Arizona.
David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada, said the Borealis has more to do with astronomy than weather but that the conditions for viewing it have to be perfect.
“In order to see it, you need clear weather and that often spoils it for us. They’re going on, they’re dancing, the choreography is fantastic and we’re sort of oblivious to it because we can’t see it through rain and cloud,” he said.
However, last night he said there was a perfect window between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. when the skies were perfectly clear with unlimited visibility.
"The weather absolutely could not have been better for viewing it,” he said.
Phillips added that the Aurora Borealis is especially vivid this year due to increased solar activity. He said the sun goes in 11 year cycles and we are currently at the peak of one of those cycles meaning solar activity is high.
"That's why I felt disappointed for the people in Ontario this year, because we know we're in the 11-year solar cycle, in the peak of that and this was going to be the winter to see the Northern Lights but as you know we ended up with the doomiest, the gloomiest, dankest, darkest and dampest winter on record," he said.
The perfect window that opened up last night was a treat for all who saw it, he said, adding that it's something people will remember for the rest of their life.
However, the viewing night didn't end well for all who took part. The Ontario Provincial Police said on Twitter that the Aurora division stopped four drivers who were stunt driving on Highway 404 while coming back from viewing the borealis.
Busy night for #AuroraOPP. 5 people charged with stunt driving. 165, 169, 176, 190 and 192 km/hr in a 100, #Hwy404. All were 26 years old or less. Licence suspensions, vehicles impounded and a court date. 4 of the drivers were coming back from looking at the #AuroraBorealis.^mh pic.twitter.com/12wEvgvFtI— OPP Highway Safety Division (@OPP_HSD) March 24, 2023