By JIM THOMAS -- Soft Serve News, Posted: October 2, 2013

From Oregon to Illinois to Ohio to Maine and across Canada, North America was treated to a great Northern Lights show last night.

The powerful display was an emotional experience for many, including first time aurora watcher Zuragchin Huu: "One of my childhood dreams came true! I was jumping for joy! I never imagined in my wildest dream I would see this natural wonder in North Dakota."

We will have to wait and see if another show is in store tonight. The Real-time Aurora Borealis forecasts can be obtained at the Aurora Borealis Forecast page at Soft Serve News.

Below are a sample of pictures taken the night of October 1, 2013 across North America and uploaded to our Facebook page.

(Note: if you'd like to be receive text, email or phone-call Aurora Alerts, customized for your location, you can get them through personal Aurora Alerts.)

Pictures from the big October 1, 2013 Aurora

Aurora Borealis Bismarck, North Dakota
From Bismarck, North Dakota by Marshall Lipp

Aurora Borealis in Eastern Quebec An enormous THANK YOU for this page
From Eastern Quebec by Sebastien Ross

Aurora Borealis Central Oregon Cascade Mountains
From Central Oregon, Cascade Mountains by Jason Brownlee Photography

Aurora Borealis Northern Maine
From northern Maine by Paul Cyr

Aurora Borealis in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Despite the light pollution and some clouds. Thank you very much ! Near Sherbrooke, Quebec by Simon Escalle

Aurora Borealis, Great Falls, Montana
From Great Falls, Montana by Vikki Higginbotham

Aurora Borealis at Birds Hill Park, Manitoba.
From Birds Hill Park, Manitoba Kahren Sabater

Aurora Borealis in central Ohio tonight.
From central Ohio by Shane Black

Aurora Borealis near Gile Pond in Sutton, NH
Near Gile Pond in Sutton, NH by Garrett Evans

Aurora Borealis in Bayfield, Wisconsin on the south shore of Lake Superior
From Bayfield, Wisconsin on the south shore of Lake Superior by Katrina Werchouski

Aurora Borealis near Bear Lake, Michigan tonight.
From Bear Lake, Michigan by Lynn Marie O Connor

Aurora Borealis in Saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada.
From Saskatoon Saskatchewan Canada by Vincent Rees

Aurora Borealis, DoorCounty, WI
From Door County, WI by Chris Miller Photography

Aurora Borealis At Carlos Avery in Minnesota
From Carlos Avery in Minnesota by Kent Carder

Aurora Borealis Near Traverse City, Michigan
From Traverse City, Michigan by Eric Raymond

Aurora Borealis Thunder Bay Ontario
From Thunder Bay Ontario by Oh Snap Photography

Aurora Borealis at Washakie County, Wyoming
From Washakie County, Wyoming by James Yule

Aurora Borealis in corn field in Minnesota
In corn field in Minnesota by Nathan Lodermeier

Aurora Borealis Middle of the thumb in Michigan
Middle of the thumb in Michigan by Daniel Frei Photography

Aurora Borealis in Thunder Bay Ontario 12:30 AM
From Thunder Bay Ontario by Oh Snap Photography


To determine if you can see the Northern Lights use the following three steps:

Step 1 -- Know your Location's "KP number."

The KP number is the Geomagnetic Activity Level. The stronger the Aurora, the larger the KP number and the further south it can be seen. Find the KP number for your location on the one of the maps below. On the night you wish to view, periodically check the real-time Aurora Borealis Forecast. This will give you the KP number prediction for the Aurora for the next hour or so. If that number is greater or equal to the number on the map for your location, you're in luck. Even if the predicted number is one point too low, it still might be worth a look.

North America

Europe & Asia

Step 2 -- Check the Weather.

Auroras happen in the upper atmosphere, so if there are clouds blocking your view of the stars, you won't be able to see the Aurora.

Step 3 -- Shop for a Dark Spot.

Get away from those city lights. Darkness is best for viewing the Aurora. The fewer competing light sources, the better. But it is also very important to remember the widest part of the Aurora is when the sun is on the opposite side of the earth. So late, nighttime (or early morning) dark tends to be best.


Experienced Northern Lights hunters are familiar with disappointment. Predictions of when the CME cloud hits the earth are not always accurate. Sometimes CME events produce much smaller displays than expected, or even none at all. Also, it is possible the main auroral event happens during the day and therefore can only be enjoyed by people on the other side of the world where it's dark.

Even with these uncertainties, seeing the grandeur of a powerful Aurora Borealis display may be a once in a lifetime event, so for some it's worth the gamble to try.