Northern Lights Dance Across Washington Skies

Northern Lights Dance Across Washington Skies
SEATTLE - Puget Sound residents were treated to a rare celestial show Sunday night as the Northern Lights danced across the sky over King, Snohomish and Skagit counties.

Ben Babusis snapped this photo in Bellevue near Lake Sammamish. Callers to the KOMO news desk said the lights were much more vibrant than when they were last visible this past July.

The colorful show began about 8 p.m. and continued through the early hours of Monday morning.

The Northern Lights are caused when the sun gives off electrically-charged particles from solar flares that strike our atmosphere.

The Earth's magnetic poles draw those particles to the polar regions. When the solar particles interact with the atmosphere, they give off the beautiful ribbons of purple, blue, red and green.

The lights are most common around the Arctic Circle, but during particularly strong solar flares they can be seen as far south as Arizona.

The Northern Lights may be visible again this week as large solar flares have been forecast. You can check for updates on solar activity.

Photo Gallery: (Click on each to enlarge)